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Demotion 


BEING  THE  LIVES  OF  GERARD  GROOTE, 

FLORENTIUS  RADEWIN  AND 

THEIR  FOLLOWERS 


TRANSLATED  INTO  ENGLISH  BY  J.  P.  ARTHUR 


LONDON 

Dryden  House.,  Gerrard  Street,  W. 
1905 


Ct)e  founders  of  tDe  5l2eto 
SDetootton 

BEING  THE  LIVES  OF  GERARD  GROOTE, 

FLORENTIUS  RADEWIN  AND 

THEIR  FOLLOWERS 


THOMAS  A  KEMPIS 


TRANSLATED  INTO  ENGLISH  BY  J.  P.  ARTHUR 


LONDON 

KEGAN  PAUL,  TRENCH,  TRUBNER  &  CO.,  Ltd, 

Dryden  House,  Gerrard  Street, 

W. 

1905 

< 

CHISWICK    PRESS:    CHARLES   WHITTINGHAM   AND   CO. 
TOOKS   COURT,    CHANCERY   LANE,    LONDON. 


The  appearance  of  a  Kempis's  "  Lives  of  Gerard 
Groote  and  his  Followers"  in  an  English  garb, 
should  be  hailed  by  Catholics  with  satisfaction. 
The  translation  has  been  very  carefully  revised  by 
the  Prior  of  Downside,  Fr.  Leo  Almond,  O.S.B., 
and  naught  will  be  found  in  it  but  what  is  edify- 
ing. I  trust  that  the  book  will  have  a  wide  circula- 
tion, presenting,  as  it  does,  one  of  the  brightest 
pages  in  the  history  of  an  age  in  which  there  is 
much  that  is  sombre. 

>g  GEORGE  AMBROSE  BURTON, 

Bishop  of  Clifton. 

November  *jth,  1904. 


.  .  .'  ■  " 

'J 

'.     ,  •'  r 

TO 

E.  H.  P. 


TQfo  v-KOfiovrf  rwv  ayitov  iartv' 
&$e  ol  Ttjpovvreg  rac,  IvroXag  rov  Qeov 
Kai  ri\v  tt'kstiv  'Iffffov 


PREFACE 


ONSIDERING  the  wide  fame  of 
Thomas  a  Kempis  as  the  reputed 
author  of  "The  Imitation  of  Christ" 
it  is  surprising  that  no  English 
translation  of  the  "  Lives  of  Gerard 
Groote  and  his  followers  "  has  been 
published  hitherto.  The  Brotherhood  of  the  Com- 
mon Life  to  which  a  Kempis  belonged  owed  its 
foundation  to  Groote  and  his  pupil  Florentius,  and 
since  that  Brotherhood  is  referred  to  by  the  author 
himself  as  "The  New  Devotion,"  and  Groote  is 
called  "  Nostrae  devotionis  fundator,"  I  have 
thought  myself  justified  in  giving  to  this  trans- 
lation the  title  which  it  bears,  although  the  editio 
princeps  gives  no  general  title  to  the  Lives. 

The  version  here  presented  does  not  claim  to  be 
savagely  literal,  but  I  hope  that  I  have  not  mis- 
represented the  author  in  any  material  point,  and 
that  the  translation  faithfully  renders  the  mean- 
ing of  the  original  Latin.  In  any  case  I  have 
ix 


PREFACE 

not  intentionally  distorted  or  omitted  a  single 
phrase. 

An  introductory  chapter  has  been  added,  giving 
a  brief  and  imperfect  resume  of  the  conditions 
under  which  Groote  and  his  followers  lived,  to- 
gether with  certain  notes  dealing  with  matters  to 
which  the  text  refers. 

My  cordial  thanks  are  due  to  several  friends 
who  have  assisted  me,  especially  to  the  Rev. 
S.  H.  Gem,  for  many  valuable  suggestions  and 
references,  and  to  M.  P.  S.  Allen  for  similar 
help.  I  am  happy  in  having  this  opportunity  of 
expressing  my  gratitude  to  the  Very  Reverend 
Leo  Almond,  Prior  of  Downside  Abbey,  who  has 
been  good  enough  to  read  my  manuscript  and  to 
give  me  much  information  on  technical  points. 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 

Preface ix 

Introduction xv 


The  Life  of  the  Reverend  Master  Gerard  the 
Great  commonly  called  Groote 

CHAP.  PAGE 

Preface :  The  Preface  to  the  life  of  the  vener- 
able Master  Gerard  the  Great,  commonly 

called  "Groote" 3 

I.     Of  the  origin  and  interpretation  of  Gerard's 

name 5 

II.     Of  his  rapid  progress  at  the  University  of 

Paris 7 

III.  How  his  conversion  was  revealed  to  a  hermit 

in  Cologne 8 

IV.  How  he  was  drawn  to  God  by  the  Carthusian       9 
V.     Of  his  change  of  garb  and  character    ...11 

VI.     How  he  separated  himself  from  fellowship 

with  worldlings 13 

VII.     Of  his  abstinence,  and  the  shirt  of  hair  which 

he  wore 15 

VIII.     How,  by  the  advice  of  the  Monks,  he  began 

to  preach  the  word  of  God 17 

IX.     Of  his  labours,  and  his  patience  toward  his 

enemies 20 

X.     Of  his  journey  to  the  parts  about  Brabant     .     23 
XI.     Of  his  austerity  in  food  and  clothing  ...     25 
XII.     Of  his  devoutness  in  prayer  and  in  hearing 

Holy  things 30 

xi 


CONTENTS 

CHAP.  PAGE 

XIII.  Of  his  great  love  of  reading  the   Holy 

Scriptures 34 

XIV.  Of  the  abundant  fruit  which  he  bore  in  the 

conversion  of  men 39 

XV.     Of  the  devout  communities  and  monas- 
teries which  arose  through  him  ...       43 
XVI.     Of  his  happy  death  and  burial  ....       46 
XVII.     Of  the  noble  eulogy  passed  upon  Gerard 

by  a  Cantor  at  Paris 51 

XVIII.     Of  his  public  profession  of  faith,  and  of 
his  delivering  the  true  Gospel  in  his 

preaching 52 

Appendix  to  the  Life  of  Gerard  Groote    .       74 


The  Life  of  the  Revered  Florentius,  a  Devout 

Priest,  and  Vicar  of  the  Church 

of  Deventer 

CHAP.  PAGE 

Preface 81 

I.     Of  the  humility  of  Christ  which  Florentius 

studied  to  imitate 85 

II.     Of  the  interpretation  of  the  name  Floren- 
tius and  its  three  glorious  meanings      .       86 

III.  Of  the  interpretation  of  his  father's  name 

Radewin 88 

IV.  Of  his  native  land,  and  how  he  went  to 

study  at  Prague 90 

V.     Of  his  honourable  character  in  the  world       92 
VI.     Of  his  conversion  through  the  preaching 

of  Master  Gerard 93 

VII.     How  he  despised  the  life  of  the  world  and 

joined  himself  to  Master  Gerard      .     .       95 
VIII.     How  Florentius  himself,  now  fully  con- 
verted, did  convert  many  others      .     .       96 
IX.     Of  the   burdens  that  he  bore,  and   the 

wrongs  that  he  suffered 98 

X.     Of  his  promotion  to  the  priesthood  and 

the  abasement  of  his  humility     ...     100 
XI.     How  seldom  he  went  out,  and  of  his  in- 
structive demeanour  as  he  stood  in  the 

Choir 102 

XII.     Of  the  simplicity  of  his  garb      ....      105 
XIII.     Of  his  humble  service  among  the  Brothers     107 
xii 


CONTENTS 

CHAP.  t  PAGE 

XIV.     How  he  laboured  with  his  hands  for  the 

common  good no 

XV.     Of  his  compassion  toward  the  poor,  the 

sick,  and  the  friendless 112 

XVI.     Of  his  feeding  the  poor,  and  washing 

beggars 115 

XVII.     Of  his  abstinence   and   the   infirmities 
which  came  upon  him  by  reason  of 

his  austerity 1 18 

XVIII.     How  he  often  recovered  by  the  aid  of 

the  prayers  of  the  devout     ....     120 
XIX.     How  upon  an  Easter  Even  he  was  healed 

by  a  Vision  of  Angels 122 

XX.     Of  one  who  fell  into  a  well  and  was 

drawn  out  unhurt 124 

XXI.     Of  the  vision  of  the  Rood  which  ap- 
peared over  his  house 125 

XXII.     Of  his   patience,  gentleness,  and  love 

toward  all  men 128 

XXIII.  Of  his  devout  exhortation  to  spiritual 

prayer 130 

XXIV.  Of  his  effectual  preaching  and  his  know- 

ledge of  the  Scriptures    133 

XXV.     How  he  set  a  guard  upon  his  tongue 

and  avoided  oaths 136 

XXVI.     Of  three  temptations   that   are  full  of 

peril  to  the  devout 138 

XXVII.     Of  his   sending  forth  the  Brothers  to 

gather  fruit  in  divers  places      .     .     .     141 
XXVIII.     Of  his  happy  passing  from  this  world 

and  his  burial  in  the  Church     .     .     .      144 
XXIX.     Of  a  vision  which  was  seen  after  his 
death,  and  of  the  great  glory  which 

he  attained 147 

A  Letter  and  certain  Notable  Sayings 
ofFlorentius 150 

Lives  of  the  Followers  of  Father  Florentius 

Preface 165 

Life  of  John  Gronde. 

I.     Of  the  first  Congregation  of  Clerks  in 

Deventer 169 

II.     Concerning  John  Gronde 172 

xiii 


CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Life  of  John  Brinckerinck 176 

Life  of  Lubert  Berner 181 

Life  of  Henry  Brune 213 

The  Life  of  Gerard  of  Zutphen 220 

Life  of  Amilius  of  Buren 226 

Life  of  James  of  Viana 232 

Life  of  John  Cacabus 235 

Life  of  Arnold  of  Schoonhoven 256 


INTRODUCTION 


HE  period  covered  by  the  Lives  of 
Gerard  Groote  and  his  followers  is 
the  hundred  years  which  elapsed 
between  1340,  the  date  ofGroote's 
birth,  and  1439,  the  year  in  which 
Henry  Brune  died.  In  order  to 
understand  the  significance  of  the  movement  to 
which  a  Kempis  has  given  the  name  of  "The 
New  Devotion,"  it  is  necessary  briefly  to  con- 
sider the  conditions  which  prevailed  at  the  time 
when  that  movement  was  initiated  and  the  diffi- 
culties with  which  its  adherents  had  to  contend. 

At  the  time  of  Groote's  birth  the  Low  Countries 
were  divided  into  a  number  of  small  principalities, 
each  of  which  was  governed  by  its  own  Sovereign : 
of  these  the  most  powerful  were  the  Counts  of 
Holland  and  the  Prince  Bishops  of  Utrecht,  who 
as  Motley  says,  "  divided  between  them  the  Sove- 
reignty of  what  afterwards  became  the  United 
States  of  the  Netherlands."  By  the  death  of 
xv 


INTRODUCTION 

William  IV  of  Holland  in  1355,  that  country  was 
plunged  into  a  whirpool  of  civil  discord  which  did 
not  subside  until  1437,  when  Philip  of  Burgundy, 
misnamed  "The  Good,"  obtained  undisputed  pos- 
session of  the  supreme  power. 

The  Bishops  of  Utrecht,  in  addition  to  their 
spiritual  authority,  enjoyed  a  large  amount  of  tem- 
poral power,  and  were  for  many  centuries  the 
most  formidable  of  the  opponents  to  the  Counts 
of  Holland.  The  Bishopric  was  founded  by  Charles 
Martell  in  the  eighth  century,  that  prince  having 
rewarded  the  Anglo-Saxon  monk,  Willibrord,  with 
large  possessions  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
town  from  which  the  See  is  named,  in  recognition 
of  his  labours  on  behalf  of  the  Faith.  Winfred  or 
Bonifacius  who  succeeded,  received  further  ac- 
cessions of  territory,  and  by  his  efforts  and  his 
martyr's  death  at  Dokkum,  Christianity  was  es- 
tablished yet  more  firmly  in  the  Netherlands. 
The  power  of  his  successors,  the  later  Bishops, 
gradually  but  continually  increased,  and  since  in 
earlier  years  the  authority  of  these  prelates  was 
frequently  exercised  in  the  defence  of  the  people 
against  oppression,  it  rested  upon  a  foundation 
surer  than  any  which  could  be  laid  by  Royal  Grant 
or  Charter. 

The  district  of  Overyssel  with  which  we  are 
more  immediately  concerned,  though  it  formed  a 
portion  of  the  dominions  of  the  prince  Bishops, 
enjoyed  at  this  time  a  certain  measure  of  inde- 
pendence, being  administered  by  a  council  com- 


INTRODUCTION 

posed  of  representatives  of  the  nobility  and  of  the 
three  cities,  Deventer,  Kempen  and  Zvvolle.  The 
Bishop,  indeed,  presided  over  this  council,  but 
he  seems  to  have  allowed  to  its  members  com- 
plete freedom  of  decision  upon  any  points  which 
arose,  and  to  have  waived  his  rights  of  interference 
even  in  cases  concerning  clerks  who  dwelt  in  the 
three  towns  above  named  ("  Belgii  Confcederati 
Respub.,"  p.  254,  Elzevir,  1630).  But  though  the 
power  of  the  Bishops  had  in  earlier  days  afforded 
protection  to  the  people,  their  government  became 
more  and  more  arbitrary  and  despotic,  a  result 
which  was  due  to  a  variety  of  causes  too  complex 
to  enumerate;  certain  points,  however,  must  be 
borne  in  mind,  of  which  perhaps  the  most  im- 
portant is  the  slight  deference  shown  by  these 
Bishops  to  their  Spiritual  Head.  Some  thirty-five 
years  before  our  period  begins,  Clement  V  had 
removed  the  Papal  Chair  to  Avignon,  and  thus  he 
and  his  successors  became  unduly  dependent  upon 
the  favour  of  the  French  Kings,  and  as  a  natural 
consequence  the  Papal  authority  was  for  the  time 
greatly  weakened.  Of  the  Popes  who  reigned 
during  the  period  under  consideration  the  first 
five,  namely,  Benedict  XII,  Clement  VI,  Inno- 
cent VI,  Urban  V  and  Gregory  XI,  resided  in 
France,  but  after  the  death  of  Gregory,  the  "  Great 
Schism  "  broke  out  to  still  further  relax  the  au- 
thority of  the  Holy  See.  It  is  impossible  here  to 
describe  in  detail  the  course  of  this  unhappy  feud, 
but  since  Groote  is  praised  for  his  loyalty  to 
xvii  6 


INTRODUCTION 

Urban  VI  it  is  desirable  to  note  the  fact  that  the 
best  authorities  agree  that  the  election  of  that 
Pontiff  was  regular,  and  that  the  action  of  the 
Cardinals  who  declared  the  election  void  was  il- 
legal. It  should  be  remembered  also  that  whereas 
the  Popes  named  above  were  all  of  French  nation- 
ality, Urban  VI  was  an  Italian,  and  that  the 
Schism  was  due  to  political  rather  than  to  Reli- 
gious considerations. 

The  election  of  Urban  took  place  in  1378,  and 
in  the  same  year  certain  of  the  Cardinals,  claim- 
ing that  the  menaces  of  the  Roman  populace  had 
hindered  their  freedom  of  choice,  elected  Robert 
of  Geneva,  who  took  the  title  of  Clement  VII. 
Urban  refused  to  recognize  his  deposition  and  took 
up  his  residence  at  Rome,  while  Clement  went  to 
Avignon.  Thus  there  were  two  claimants  to  the 
Papacy,  a  condition  of  things  which  not  only 
weakened  the  Church  by  dividing  Catholic  Christ- 
endom into  two  parties,  but  also  embittered  the 
already  existing  civil  and  political  strife.  On  the 
death  of  Urban  VI  the  Italian  party  elected 
Boniface  IX  as  his  successor,  and  five  years  later 
Benedict  XIII  was  chosen  to  succeed  Clement  at 
Avignon.  Boniface  was  followed  by  Innocent  VII, 
who,  however,  survived  his  election  by  two  years 
only,  and  on  his  death  the  Italian  Cardinals  chose 
Angelo  Corrario,  who  is  known  to  History  as 
Gregory  XII.  This  pontiff  and  Benedict  undertook 
to  resign  their  claims  if  such  resignation  should 
seem  likely  to  promote  the  peace  of  the  church, 


INTRODUCTION 

but  as  events  proved  neither  was  willing  to  carry 
out  his  promise,  and  in  1409  nine  of  the  Cardinals 
who  had  supported  Benedict  made  common  cause 
with  the  Italian  party,  and  the  latter  being  thus 
strengthened,  convoked  the  Council  of  Pisa  which 
condemned  and  deposed  both  Popes,  and  chose 
John  of  Candia,  who  took  the  name  of  Alexander  V. 
The  deposed  Pontiffs,  however,  refused  to  recog- 
nize the  validity  of  this  sentence,  so  that  there 
were  now  three  claimants  to  St.  Peter's  Throne, 
and  although  Alexander  died  in  1410,  the  strife 
of  parties  was  not  thereby  lessened,  since  the 
sixteen  Cardinals  who  had  elected  him  now  chose 
in  his  place  another  Italian  who  is  known  as 
John  XXIII.  He  it  was  who  in  1414  convoked  the 
council  of  Constance,  perhaps  expecting  that 
Council  to  support  his  pretensions  and  depose  his 
rivals,  but  if  this  was  his  expectation  it  was  dis- 
appointed, for  by  the  unanimous  vote  of  the 
Council  John  was  himself  deposed,  and  shortly 
afterwards  Gregory  expressed  his  willingness  to 
resign.  Sentence  of  deposition  was  subsequently 
passed  upon  Benedict,  who,  however,  continued 
to  claim,  and  so  far  as  he  could  to  exercise,  the 
Papal  authority  until  his  death  in  1423,  when  the 
two  Cardinals  who  had  continued  to  support  him 
chose  Clement  VIII  in  his  place.  Meanwhile  the 
Council  of  Constance  had  chosen  Otto  de  Colonna, 
who  as  Martin  V  succeeded  in  healing  the  Schism, 
for  in  1429  Clement,  the  last  of  the  Anti-Popes, 
was  persuaded  to  resign. 


INTRODUCTION 


In  view  of  the  complexity  of  these  proceedings 
it  may  be  convenient  to  append  a  table  of  the 
Popes  who  reigned  during  the  period  under  dis- 
cussion, the  names  of  Anti-Popes  being  in  italics : 


Benedict  XII 
Clement  VI 

Innocent  VI 
Urban  V 
Gregory  XI 

Urban  VI       \ 
Clement  VII ) 

Boniface  IX 
Clement  VII 
Benedict  XIII 


Innocent  VII 
Benedict  XIII 

Gregory  XII 
Benedict  XIII 

Alexander  V 
Gregory  XII 
Benedict  XIII 

John  XXIII 
Gregory  XII 
Benedict  XIII 

Martin  V 


Besides  the  Schism  other  causes  tended  to 
weaken  the  Papal  authority  in  the  country  with 
which  we  have  to  deal.  The  Bishops  of  Utrecht 
were  dependent  rather  upon  the  favour  of  the 
Emperor  than  upon  that  of  the  Pope,  and  even 
during  the  years  which  marked  the  increase  of 
the  Papal  authority  throughout  Europe,  there  are 
many  instances  of  strong  resistance  being  offered 
to  it  both  in  the  Low  Countries  and  elsewhere  in 
Northern  Europe.  Heresy,  as  Motley  has  pointed 
out,  was  a  plant  of  early  growth  in  the  Nether- 
lands, and  "  from  the  earliest  times  neither  Prince 
xx 


INTRODUCTION 

People  nor  even  Prelates  had  been  very  dutiful  to 
the  Pope."  Students  of  history  will  remember 
many  instances  of  resistance  to  the  Papal  claims  in 
England,  especially  during  the  reigns  of  Edward 
III.  and  his  immediate  successors,  and  as  early  as 
1413  the  feeling  of  the  people  against  the  clergy 
led  the  commons  to  petition  Henry  V.  to  seize  cer- 
tain revenues  of  the  Church,  and  apply  them  to 
the  service  of  the  State. 

It  is  necessary,  however,  to  go  back  to  an  ear- 
lier period  than  this  in  order  to  trace  the  develop- 
ment of  the  feeling  of  which  such  acts  were  the 
outcome,  and  it  is  impossible  to  deny  that  ecclesi- 
astical dignitaries  and  the  subordinate  clergy  gave 
many  provocations  to  the  civil  power  and  to  the 
people  at  large  in  the  years  which  preceded  the 
time  of  which  we  speak. 

As  early  as  the  beginning  of  the  twelfth  century 
the  notorious  Tanchelyn,  an  illiterate  impostor, 
caused  great  commotion  in  Brabant  by  his  de- 
nunciations of  the  clergy,  and  although  his  utter- 
ances were  blasphemous  and  his  conduct  was 
grotesquely  indecent,  he  gained  for  a  time  a  con- 
siderable following,  a  result  which  could  hardly 
have  occurred  had  there  been  no  substratum  of 
truth  in  the  protest  which  he  made  against  clerical 
domination.  During  the  progress  of  the  same 
century  other  teachers  arose  to  cause  divisions 
and  strife  in  the  Church  to  which  they  professed 
allegiance,  and,  naturally  enough,  persecution 
followed,  to  be  attended  as  usual  by  a  yet  more 
xxi 


INTRODUCTION 

luxuriant  growth  in  that  which  it  strove  to  eradi- 
cate. By  the  end  of  the  thirteenth  century  the 
clerical  power  had  begun  to  decline.  The  enor- 
mous wealth  of  the  Church  aroused  the  cupidity 
of  the  civil  power,  and  the  depravity  of  many 
clerks  excited  the  indignation  of  thoughtful  men. 
Even  those  who  would  not  consent  to  rob  the 
Church  of  her  possessions,  were  forced  to  admit 
that  the  influence  of  great  wealth  was  not  wholly 
for  good:  that  luxurious  indolence  was  too  often 
the  effect  of  it :  and  that  the  austerity  of  life  and 
sobriety  of  conduct  which  marked  certain  sects 
which  were  regarded  as  heretical,  could  not  but 
give  those  sects  a  firm  hold  upon  the  minds  of  the 
people.  It  was  perhaps  to  this  feeling  that  the 
great  popularity  of  the  mendicant  orders  was  due, 
but  in  any  case  that  popularity  grew  continuously 
throughout  the  thirteenth  century,  and  the  orders 
themselves  multiplied  to  an  extent  so  inconvenient 
that  the  council  of  Lyons  in  1274  had  decreed  the 
suppression  of  all  such  orders  as  had  sprung  up 
since  the  Pontificate  of  Innocent  III.  Thus  four 
mendicant  orders  only  were  left,  namely,  the 
Dominicans,  the  Franciscans,  the  Carmelites  and 
the  Hermits  of  St.  Augustine,  and  the  reputation 
for  sanctity  enjoyed  by  these  orders  was  such  that  it 
became  a  common  practice  for  testators  to  provide 
in  their  wills  that  their  bodies  should  be  wrapped 
in  a  Dominican  or  Franciscan  habit,  in  the  hope  of 
thereby  obtaining  mercy  in  the  Day  of  Judgement. 
This  popularity,  however,  was  followed  by  a  re- 
xxii 


INTRODUCTION 

action;  thus  in  our  own  country  Richard  of  Armagh 
and  others  attacked  the  authority  of  the  mendi- 
cants, and  it  was  to  his  opposition  to  them  that 
Wyclif  owed  the  sentence  of  deprivation  that  was 
passed  on  him.  In  addition  to  the  effect  of  such 
attacks  from  without,  the  societies  were  also 
weakened  by  internal  dissensions,  many  of  which 
appear  to  the  modern  reader  as  frivolous  and 
puerile,  being  based  upon  philosophical  rather 
than  upon  religious  differences,  though  others  had 
their  origin  in  more  serious  matters.  It  is,  how- 
ever, only  necessary  for  our  purpose  to  remind 
the  reader  of  the  bitter  quarrels  between  the 
different  sections  of  Franciscans  and  of  the  long 
feud  between  the  latter  and  the  Dominicans. 

Amongst  other  religious  bodies  which  flourished 
during  this  period  are  the  Lollards  and  Beguines, 
of  whom  it  is  necessary  to  make  special  mention, 
as  they  are  referred  to  in  the  Lives.  The  former 
name  is  constantly  used  by  English  writers  as  if 
it  were  descriptive  of  the  followers  of  Wyclif  only, 
whereas  the  term  is  applied  by  other  authors  to  the 
Franciscan  Tertiaries,  the  Cellites,  the  Brothers 
of  the  Common  Life,  and  many  others.  According 
to  Dr.  Mosheim  ("  Eccl.  Hist."  Cent.  XIV,  §  36, 
note)  the  word  means  primarily  "  a  singer,"  and 
denotes  one  who  is  constantly  singing  hymns  to 
God;  "  among  those  Lollards  who  made  extra- 
ordinary pretences  to  piety  .  .  .  there  were  many 
hypocrites  who  entertained  the  most  ridiculous 
opinions  and  concealed  the  most  enormous  vices 
xxiii 


INTRODUCTION 

under  the  specious  mask  of  this  extraordinary 
profession.  It  was  chiefly  after  the  rise  of  the 
Alexians  that  the  name  Lollard  became  infamous." 
All  sorts  of  wickedness  and  many  pernicious  sen- 
timents were,  according  to  the  authority  cited, 
attributed  to  these  Alexians,  and  as  they  were 
often  referred  to  as  Lollards,  the  name  gradually 
came  to  be  applied  to  any  one  who  covered 
heresies  or  crimes  under  the  appearance  of  piety. 
The  name  "  Beguine  "  is  also  of  somewhat  un- 
certain signification,  being  applied  both  to  that 
body  which  owed  its  origin  to  an  austere  branch 
of  the  Franciscan  order,  and  also  to  certain  Ger- 
man and  Belgic  societies  which  flourished  during 
the  thirteenth  and  following  centuries.  It  is  with 
the  latter  only  that  we  have  to  do,  and  it  is  suf- 
ficient for  our  purpose  to  say  that  though  it  has 
been  shown  that  certain  societies  called  by  this 
name  were  established  in  Holland  and  Flanders 
as  early  as  the  eleventh  century,  it  was  not  until 
the  thirteenth  that  they  gained  any  great  celebrity. 
It  appears  that  a  number  of  pious  women  asso- 
ciated themselves  together  and  lived  under  the 
rule  of  a  superior  of  their  own  sex,  dividing  their 
time  between  devotional  exercises  and  honest 
labour.  They  did  not,  however,  bind  themselves 
by  vows,  but  were  at  liberty  to  quit  the  society  or 
to  marry  if  so  disposed.  The  name  Beguine  means 
— likeBeghard — "one  who  is  assiduous  in  prayer," 
and  having  been  used  at  first  of  pious  persons 
generally,  became  afterwards  applied  to  the  so- 
xxiv 


INTRODUCTION 

cieties  above  mentioned.  After  a  period  of  pros- 
perity which  lasted  until  the  early  part  of  the 
fourteenth  century  the  Beguines  fell  into  disrepute, 
and  although  John  XXII  and  his  successors 
afforded  them  some  protection  they  continued  to 
fall  both  in  wealth  and  prosperity,  because  as  it 
would  seem  they  were  supposed  to  have  been  cor- 
rupted by  the  infamous  opinions  of  the  Brethren 
of  the  Free  Spirit.  Hence  it  is  that  we  find  the 
name  used  in  the  Life  of  Florentius  as  a  term  of 
reproach.  This  period,  marked  as  it  was  by  civil 
and  religious  discord,  was  of  course  favourable  to 
the  production  of  fanatic  enthusiasts  and  vision- 
aries, such  as  the  Flagellants  who  caused  some 
commotion  in  1340,  and  the  Dancers  who  dis- 
turbed the  Netherlands  in  1373.  Somewhat  later, 
but  still  during  our  period,  arose  the  Brothers  and 
Sisters  of  the  Free  Spirit,  the  Men  of  Under- 
standing, and  other  sects,  all  of  which  added  to 
the  disorder  of  this  unhappy  time,  and  disturbed 
in  a  special  degree  the  country  in  which  Groote 
and  his  followers  lived. 

Although  the  explosion  caused  by  the  con 
demnation  of  Huss  took  place  in  another  land,  its 
echoes  were  heard  and  some  of  its  effects  felt  in 
Holland  and  the  surrounding  districts.  Huss  was 
condemned  and  suffered  in  1415,  and  his  friend 
Jerome  of  Prague  in  the  following  year;  but  the 
religious  dissensions  and  the  barbarous  war  which 
they  caused  continued  to  disturb  further  an  already 
distracted  world,  until  Mneas  Sylvius,  the  emis- 
xxv 


INTRODUCTION 

sary  of  the  Council  of  Basel,  succeeded  in  recon- 
cilingthe  more  reasonable  section  of  the  Hussites  to 
the  Church,  in  1 433.  Whatever  view  may  be  taken 
as  to  the  justice  or  otherwise  of  the  condemnation 
of  the  views  of  Huss,  there  can  be  no  doubt  that 
the  demands  of  those  of  his  followers  who  are 
known  as  Taborites  were  grossly  extravagant,  that 
their  doctrines  were  grotesque  and  heretical,  and 
that  their  conduct  was  at  least  as  barbarous  and 
cruel  as  that  of  their  most  fanatical  opponents. 

It  was  not  by  actual  heretics  only  that  the  peace 
of  the  Church  was  disturbed;  various  abuses  had 
slowly  developed,  and  were  tolerated  by  many 
persons  whose  orthodoxy  was  never  questioned. 
We  need,  however,  deal  only  with  those  to  which 
reference  is  made  in  the  text. 

It  will  be  observed  that  Groote  lays  great  stress 
upon  the  evils  of  pluralism,  and  indeed  the  dis- 
astrous consequences  of  the  non-enforcement  of 
the  Canons  against  this  abuse  must  have  been 
evident  to  all.  According  to  Hallam  ("  Mid.  Ages," 
c.  7,  p.  2)  there  were  cases  of  fifty,  or  even  sixty 
benefices  being  held  by  a  single  incumbent,  and  in 
our  own  country  it  was  found  that  in  1367  some 
clerks  enjoyed  more  than  twenty  benefices.  An 
abuse  of  a  like  nature  was  the  holding  by  persons 
other  than  priests  of  ecclesiastical  preferments. 
Thus  Petrarch  was  enabled  to  enjoy  the  revenues 
of  two  benefices  although  he  never  took  full  orders. 
Closely  connected  with  these  abuses  we  find  the 
crime  of  Simony,  a  term  that,  in  the  wider  sense 
xxvi 


INTRODUCTION 

in  which  Groote  uses  it,  must  be  taken  to  include 
many  things  besides  the  actual  sale  and  purchase 
of  benefices,  such  as  the  traffic  in  Indulgences 
which,  as  all  who  are  conversant  with  the  history  of 
this  period  are  aware,  was  lamentably  common. 
Odious  as  is  any  traffic  in  the  temporalities  at- 
tached to  spiritual  cures,  the  Church  has  found 
great  difficulty  in  suppressing  it:  as  early  as  the 
eleventh  century  such  simony  was  a  reproach  to  the 
clergy  in  Holland  and  to  the  patrons  "  who  made 
their  powers  of  nomination  and  investiture  sub- 
servient to  their  rapacity."  By  the  ancient  canons, 
indeed,  a  benefice  was  avoided  by  any  simoniacal 
payment  or  stipulation,  but  for  obvious  reasons 
this  law  was  seldom  enforced;  as  time  went  on 
the  practice  became  more  and  more  common  in 
spite  of  the  protests  of  upright  churchmen.  In 
1377  the  English  Parliament  presented  a  petition 
to  Edward  III  complaining  of  the  greed  of  patrons, 
and  in  Germany,  according  to  Sismondi,  things 
were  even  worse  than  in  England.  Pope  Urban  VI 
owednosmallpartof  his  unpopularity  with  a  section 
of  churchmen  to  their  fear  that  he  would  interfere 
with  their  illegitimate  profits,  and  the  council  of 
Constance  proposed  to  deal  with  this  growing  evil. 
A  modern  reader  might  perhaps  feel  some  sur- 
prise at  the  severity  with  which  Groote  speaks  of 
usurers,  but  it  is  well  known  that  from  very  early 
times  the  practice  of  usury  was  regarded  as 
criminal.  In  the  year  1 179  Alexander  III  decreed 
that  usurers  "  nee  ad  communionem  recipiantur 


INTRODUCTION 

altaris,  nee  Christianam  si  in  hoc  peccato  deces- 
serint,  accipiant  sepulturam,  sed  nee  oblationem 
eorum  quisquam  accipiat."  So,  too,  in  Spain  the 
Inquisition  took  cognisance  of  usury,  and  long 
after  the  Reformation  Anglican  Divines  continued 
to  speak  with  horror  of  the  practice — indeed,  it 
may  be  doubted  whether  the  prejudice  against 
what  is  essentially  a  legitimate  commercial  trans- 
action is  even  now  dead,  although  the  unanimous 
verdict  of  economists  ought  to  have  settled  the 
question. 

It  is  unnecessary  to  comment  upon  the  protest 
made  by  Groote  against  the  grosser  sins  of  his 
contemporaries,  but  no  one  who  takes  the  trouble 
to  examine  the  evidence  can  doubt  that  his  pro- 
tests were  fully  justified. 

Since  many  references  are  made  in  the  Lives 
to  Schools  and  Universities,  it  may  be  well  to  re- 
view briefly  the  state  of  learning  during  this  period. 
The  interest  in  classical  studies,  which  had  de- 
declined  during  the  latter  half  of  the  thirteenth 
century,  was  revived  to  a  great  extent  in  the 
fourteenth,  and  during  the  lifetime  of  Groote  and 
his  followers  many  schools  and  universities  were 
founded  and  becameflourishing  institutions,  as,  for 
example,  at  Cologne,  Florence,  Pisa,  and  Prague. 
The  study  of  Greek,  which  had  been  neglected,  was 
revived,  owing  to  the  influence  of  such  scholars  as 
Boccaccio,  Petrarch,  and  Manuel  Chrysolaras,  and 
although  the  enthusiasm  for  classical  learning  was 
xxviii 


INTRODUCTION 

more  marked  in  Italy  than  elsewhere,  these  great 
scholars  had  followers  in  Northern  Europe  as  well 
as  in  their  own  land. 

Somewhat  earlier  than  the  period  with  which 
we  deal,  Clement  V  had  given  encouragement  to 
the  study  of  Hebrew  and  other  Oriental  languages, 
which  he  directed  "  should  be  taught  in  public 
schools  that  the  Church  might  never  lack  a  suf- 
ficient number  of  missionaries  properly  qualified 
to  dispute  with  Jews  and  Mohammedans,  and  to 
diffuse  the  light  of  the  gospel  throughout  the 
East."  Mathematical  study,  which  was  regarded 
with  some  suspicion,  owing  to  its  supposed  con- 
nection with  astrology  and  magic,  had  been  pur- 
sued with  success  by  Thomas  Bradwardine,  Arch- 
bishop of  Canterbury  (d.  1349),  although  the 
history  of  such  enquirers  as  Cecco  d'Ascoli  hardly 
encouraged  others  to  pursue  that  branch  of  know- 
ledge. The  University  of  Paris  at  which  Groote 
studied  was  specially  famous  for  Scholastic  Theo- 
logy, and  it  is  interesting  to  note  that  Groote  is 
said  to  have  acquired  great  learning  in  Civil  as 
well  as  Common  law,  although  the  study  of  the 
former  was  prohibited  in  that  university:  we  know, 
however,  from  other  sources  that  the  prohibition 
was  disregarded.  The  University  of  Prague,  of 
which  Florentius  was  a  member,  was  not  founded 
until  1350,  but  its  repute  grew  rapidly  and  at- 
tracted many  students,  until,  as  Badius  says 
("  Vita  Thomae  a  Kempis,"  viii,  §  7),  "  it  became 
infected  by  heresy,"  when  it  fell  into  disrepute  with 
xxix  * 


INTRODUCTION 

orthodox  Catholics.  The  reference  is,  of  course,  to 
the  Hussite  troubles  which  had  their  origin  here, 
Huss  having  persuaded  the  authorities  to  take 
away  three  votes  from  the  German  party  in  Uni- 
versity elections.  This  produced  a  secession,  to 
which  the  University  of  Leipsic  owes  its  origin, 
and  the  ill  feeling  which  the  action  of  Huss  aroused 
was  no  doubt  one  of  the  causes  which  led  to  his 
condemnation. 

Another  great  centre  of  learning  was  the  school 
of  Cologne,  which  is  called  by  Angelius  "  the 
child  of  the  University  of  Paris  and  the  mother  of 
that  at  Louvain."  This  institution  was  founded  by 
Urban  VI  in  1388,  while  the  academy  at  Louvain 
was  raised  to  the  dignity  of  an  university  by  John 
IV  of  Brabant  in  1423. 

Though  we  have  some  considerable  knowledge 
as  to  the  subjects  taught  and  the  methods  pursued 
in  the  Universities  during  this  period,  very  few 
records  remain  of  school  life.  A  Kempis  himself, 
as  he  tells  us  in  "  The  Life  of  Florentius,"  was  a 
pupil  in  the  school  of  Deventer,  of  which  institu- 
tion John  Boheme  was  master;  a  notice  of  this 
school  may  be  found  in  "  De  Laet.  Belg.  De- 
script.,"  ed.  1630,  p.  239,  where  we  learn  that 
the  subjects  taught  were  Philosophy,  Theology, 
Hebrew,  and  Civil  law.  As  to  the  methods  adopted 
we  may  gather  some  information  from  the  chro- 
nicles of  Windesheim  by  Buschius,  a  contemporary 
of  a  Kempis.  In  this  work  there  is  an  account  of 
John  Cele,  who  is  mentioned  in  the  life  of  Groote, 


INTRODUCTION 

and  his  biographer  gives  some  account  of  the 
school  of  Zwolle  of  which  Cele  was  master  from 
1376  to  1417.  In  all  probability  the  schools  at 
Zwolle  and  Deventer  were  managed  on  similar 
lines,  so  that  Buschius'  account  of  the  former  has 
some  interest  for  us.  Strict  discipline  seems  to 
have  been  maintained  among  the  eight  hundred 
scholars,  details  of  which  may  be  found  in  the 
chronicle  above-named,  and  in  Kettlewell's  work, 
entitled,  "  Thomas  a  Kempis  and  the  Brothers  of 
the  Common  Life."  Further  information  about 
Cele  himself  may  be  derived  from  the  chronicle 
of  Mt.  St.  Agnes. 

The  principle  of  Association  which  led  to  the 
formation  of  Trade  Guilds  in  this  part  of  the  world 
was  extended  so  as  to  include  other  interests,  and 
to  this  principle  was  due  the  formation  of  the 
Guilds  of  Rhetoric  which  flourished  in  most  of  the 
principal  towns.  The  importance  for  our  purpose 
of  such  association  is  the  influence  they  exercised 
over  the  people,  for  it  is  a  remarkable  fact  that 
the  cultivation  of  the  arts  and  the  pursuit  of  know- 
ledge were  during  the  fourteenth  century  by  no 
means  confined  to  the  upper  classes.  During  the 
time  of  which  we  speak  the  influence  of  these 
Guilds  in  the  Low  Countries  was  not  so  great  as 
it  afterwards  became,  but  in  France  and  Germany 
such  associations  had  already  considerable  import- 
ance. Amongst  other  things  the  guilds  encouraged 
theatrical  performances,  some  of  which  were  con- 
ducted in  the  churches,  as,  for  instance,  "  King 
xxxi 


INTRODUCTION       • 

Herod  and  his  Deeds,"  which  was  enacted  in 
Utrecht  Cathedral  in  1418  (Motley,  loc.  cit.). 
Their  efforts,  however,  were  not  confined  to  the 
exhibition  of  religious  dramas,  and  it  is  not  un- 
likely that  the  "  idle  amusements  and  spectacles  " 
mentioned  in  the  text  were  entertainments  or- 
ganized by  these  societies. 

Some  reference  must  be  made  to  the  social  con- 
dition of  the  people  in  the  days  of  Groote  and  his 
followers.  In  spite  of  the  disturbances  which  per- 
petually recurred,  this  was  a  period  during  which 
wealth  accumulated  with  astonishing  rapidity. 
The  flourishing  condition  of  the  wool  trade  in 
Flanders,  Brabant  and  Hainault  was  the  chief 
cause  of  this  prosperity,  but  the  fisheries  of  Zeland 
and  Holland  also  contributed  to  it.  Cologne  had 
long  been  a  great  trading  centre,  and  as  early  as 
1220  the  merchants  of  that  city  set  up  a  factory 
in  London.  The  opening  of  trade  in  the  Baltic 
through  the  enterprise  of  the  Hanseatic  con- 
federacy and  the  development  of  commercial  in- 
tercourse with  southern  Europe  during  the  four- 
teenth century  also  contributed  to  make  this  ac- 
cumulation of  wealth  possible,  and  there  can  be 
no  doubt  that  the  Trade  Guilds,  to  which  reference 
has  been  made,  assisted  the  merchants  to  resist 
the  arbitrary  measures  of  their  nominal  rulers  and 
to  amass  riches  which  rivalled  or  surpassed  those 
of  the  ancient  nobility.  Agriculture,  too,  had 
made  considerable  progress,  largely  owing  to  the 
efforts  of  the  Religious  Houses  to  which  grants  of 


INTRODUCTION 

waste  land  were  made,  and  these  being  cleared  and 
put  under  cultivation  added  largely  to  the  wealth 
of  the  countries  in  which  they  were  situated. 

The  continuance  of  this  prosperity  appears  the 
more  remarkable  when  we  consider  the  fact  that 
throughout  this  period  the  countries  of  which  we 
speak  were  devastated  from  time  to  time  by  visita- 
tions of  the  Plague  and  the  Black  Death;  no  less 
than  six  of  the  Brothers  whose  lives  are  here 
written  died  of  these  diseases,  and  a  Kempis  notes 
that  many  others  of  the  community  met  with 
a  like  fate.  The  horrible  pestilence  called  the 
Plague  seems  to  have  reached  Europe  from  the 
Levant  in  1346.  A  year  or  two  later  it  ravaged 
France  and  England,  and  in  1350  appeared  in  an 
aggravated  form  in  Germany  and  the  Low  Coun- 
tries. Other  severe  visitations  occurred  in  1361, 
1366,  1398,  1404  and  1439,  and  although  we  must 
receive  with  reserve  the  statements  of  contempo- 
rary chronicles  as  to  the  mortality  caused  by  these 
pestilences,  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  a  consider- 
able proportion  of  the  population  was  swept  ofFby 
them.  According  to  Sismondi  between  four  and 
five  millions  died  in  France  alone  during  the  first 
plague,  and  although  some  of  the  later  epidemics 
appear  to  have  been  less  deadly,  the  devastation 
caused  by  them  cannot  but  have  affected  detri- 
mentally the  material  progress  of  the  country,  and 
great  misery  must  have  resulted,  especially  amongst 
the  poor,  to  whose  service  the  Brothers  of  the 
Common  Life  specially  devoted  themselves. 

xxxiii  c 


INTRODUCTION 

Another  disease  which  scourged  the  country 
was  leprosy,  and  this  complaint  is  mentioned 
several  times  in  the  text.  According  to  the  greatest 
living  authority  leprosy  is  caused  by  a  diet  of  more 
or  less  putrid  fish.  If  this  theory  is  correct,  a 
country  like  that  of  which  we  speak  would  be  likely 
to  suffer,  since  in  it  fish  formed  the  staple  diet 
of  many  of  the  people,  and  in  the  inland  parts 
especially  salted  fish  was  largely  eaten,  even  on 
occasions  when  abstinence  from  flesh  was  not 
ordained. 

The  existence  in  France  of  two  thousand  leper 
houses,  and  in  Europe  as  a  whole  of  nineteen 
thousand  such  establishments,  shows  how  severe 
a  scourge  this  complaint  must  have  been  (Spren- 
gel,  "Hist,  de  la  Medicine,"  ii.  374,  quoted  by 
Buckle).  The  treatment  to  which  the  unfortunate 
victims  of  the  disease  were  subjected  added  to  the 
horror  of  their  lot,  and  the  action  of  the  Brothers 
in  ministering  to  them  is  the  more  laudable  inas- 
much as  by  so  doing  they  ran  counter  to  the  pre- 
vailing prejudices  and  superstitions;  for  at  this 
time — and  indeed  long  afterwards — diseases  in 
general  and  leprosy  in  particular  were  looked  upon 
as  indications  of  Divine  wrath  rather  than  as  being 
due  to  natural  causes.  It  appears  that  some  of  the 
Brothers  had  a  knowledge  of  medicine,  and  though 
Groote  deprecates  the  practice  of  this  art  it  is 
probable  that  he  was  not  altogether  unacquainted 
with  it;  in  any  case  he  must  have  had  the  famous 
saying  of  Hippocrates  in  his  mind  when  he  laid 
xxxiv 


INTRODUCTION 

down  the  rule  "  not  to  give  remedies  of  doubtful 
virtue." 

It  seems  that  the  first  suggestion  for  the  forma- 
tion of  a  Brotherhood  came  from  Florentius  (see 
Buschius  Chr.  of  Windesheim),  who  with  the  as- 
sent of  Groote  gathered  together  a  number  of 
young  clerks  and  copyists  who  were  willing  to  live 
a  Common  Life.  These  persons  took  no  formal 
vows,  but  undertook  to  obey  such  rules  as  might 
be  drawn  up  from  time  to  time  for  the  govern- 
ment of  the  Community,  and  from  this  small  be- 
ginning grew  the  Brotherhood  of  the  Common 
Life.  Although  the  credit  for  this  suggestion  is 
due  in  part  to  Florentius,  yet  Groote  himself  had 
formerly  desired  to  found  a  religious  community. 
Lack  of  means,  however,  and  the  opposition  of 
the  existing  Orders,  which  he  foresaw,  had  hin- 
dered the  execution  of  this  design:  the  former 
difficulty  was  overcome  by  the  generosity  of  one 
Lambert  Stuerman,  who  by  his  will  left  a  large 
sum  of  money  at  Groote's  disposal;  but  Groote 
himself  did  not  live  long  enough  to  carry  out  his 
desires.  On  his  death-bed,  however,  he  gave  in- 
structions to  his  followers  to  build  and  establish  a 
House,  and  transfer  to  it  such  members  of  the 
original  sociery  as  might  desire  to  join.  He  par- 
ticularly directed  that  this  House  should  adopt 
the  Rule  of  the  Canons  Regular  of  St.  Augustine, 
assigning  the  following  reasons  for  his  decision. 
He  did  not  desire,  he  said,  that  the  members  of 
xxxv 


INTRODUCTION 

the  Order  should  be  wholly  separated  from  the 
world  like  the  Carthusians,  nor  that  the  Rule  under 
which  they  lived  should  be  as  severe  as  that  of 
the  Cistercians.  On  the  other  hand,  he  was  aware 
of  the  advantage  to  be  derived  by  adhering  to  the 
rule  of  an  established  order,  for  by  this  means  he 
hoped  to  overcome  or  avoid  the  opposition  of  the 
Mendicants,  who  would  certainly  do  their  utmost 
to  crush  an  entirely  new  society. 

Obedient  to  the  directions  given  by  their  leader, 
Florentius,  whom  Groote  had  named  as  his  suc- 
cessor, proceeded  at  once  to  build  the  House  at 
Windesheim,  a  desolate  place  between  Zwolle  and 
Deventer.  Afterwards,  as  the  movement  gained 
fresh  adherents  other  houses  were  built,  such  as 
that  near  Arnheim,  called  "  The  Fount  of  the 
Blessed  Mary,"  that  near  Hoern,  named  "The 
House  of  the  New  Light,"  and  a  third,  called  "  The 
House  of  Mount  St.  Agnes,"  at  Nemel. 

The  Rule  which  was  thus  adopted  had  been 
summarized  by  Kettlewell  (p.  173),  and  contains 
the  following  headings : 

I.  To  observe  the  fundamental  law  of  Love, 
and  to  imitate  the  example  of  the 
Mother  Church  of  Jerusalem  in  union 
of  heart  and  in  having  all  things  in 
common. 
II.  To  learn  the  lesson  of  Humility,  accord- 
ing to  the  pattern  of  the  Life  of  Christ 
and  that  of  His  nearest  and  most  faith- 
ful followers. 

xxxvi 


INTRODUCTION 

III.  To  observe  the  Canonical  Hours  and  times 

of  prayer. 

IV.  To  take  charge  of  the  sick  and  infirm 

wherever  they  be  found,  and  to  minis- 
ter to  their  bodily  and  spiritual  needs. 

V.  To  avoid  all  affectation  and  singularity  in 

dress. 

VI.  To  give  and  receive  fraternal  correction 

and  admonition  from  one  another,  to 
confess  our  faults  and  to  submit  our- 
selves wholly  to  our  Superior. 
VII.  To  promote  in  all  things  the  interest  of 
the  Community;  to  be  diligent   in  all 
duties  and  never  to  be  idle. 
VIII.  To  observe  outward  cleanliness  and  de- 
cency, and  to  take  proper  care  of  the 
body  for  the  sake  of  the  soul,  both  in 
health  and  sickness. 
In  connection  with  this  last  provision  it  is  in- 
teresting to  find  that  in  consequence  of  the  au- 
sterities practised  by  certain  of  the  Brothers  in  the 
earlier  days  of  the  Community  at  Deventer  their 
health  failed,  and  therefore  the  custom  was  estab- 
lished at  Windesheim  of  exacting  from  every  mem- 
ber a  promise  "  to   endeavour  to  eat  well,   and 
sleep  well." 

The  habit  adopted  by  the  Brothers  was  of  dark 
grey  cloth,  and  when  they  became  Canons  Regu- 
lar they  wore  a  white  rochet  with  a  black  hood. 

It  will  be  noticed  that  the  only  title  given  to  the 
head  of  the  community  in  the  following  lives  is 


INTRODUCTION 

that  of  Rector.  The  first  "  Prior  "  of  the  Order 
appears  to  have  been  John  a  Kempis  (elected  in 
1398),  the  elder  brother  of  Thomas,  to  whom  re- 
ference is  made  in  the  life  of  Gronde. 

The  members  of  the  Brotherhood  were  divided 
into  two  classes,  the  Clerks  and  the  Unlettered 
Brethren  ;  and  of  these  the  former  devoted  them- 
selves to  the  cause  of  education,  and  to  copying 
books  in  addition  to  the  duties  above  indicated, 
while  the  latter  occupied  themselves  in  manual 
labour. 

It  is  beside  our  purpose  to  trace  in  detail  the 
growth  and  decline  of  this  society,  but  it  may  not 
be  out  of  place  to  indicate  some  of  the  causes  of 
that  decline. 

Some  writers  of  repute  have  referred  to  a  Kem- 
pis, Gerard  Groote  and  others  who  belonged  to 
this  society  as  forerunners  of  the  Reformation,  and 
it  is  true  enough  to  say  that  their  teaching  and 
that  of  certain  leaders  of  the  Protestant  move- 
ment had  points  of  contact.  To  say  this,  however, 
is  to  say  very  little,  for  the  same  statement  might 
be  made  equally  truly  of  the  teaching  of  Luther 
and  that  of  Bellarmine,  whilst  a  very  moderate 
degree  of  ingenuity  would  suffice  to  show  that  on 
many  points  Calvin  was  at  one  with  St.  Francis 
Xavier.  Groote  indeed  protests  against  various 
abuses,  but  so  also  does  Urban  VI;  and  if  Gerard 
of  Zutphen  advocates  the  dissemination  of  por- 
tions of  the  Scripture  in  the  vulgar  tongue,  it  was 
xxxviii 


INTRODUCTION 

a  Pope  who  praised  the  Archbishop  of  Florence 
for  publishing  the  sacred  writings  in  the  language 
of  his  own  country.  It  is  hardly  possible  to  read 
the  lives  which  follow  without  admitting  that  both 
their  subjects  and  their  author  were  loyal  to  their 
Church  and  to  its  head:  on  this  point  the  appen- 
dix to  the  life  of  Lubert  Berner  would  appear  to 
be  conclusive,  for  the  temptations  there  described 
would  probably  be  regarded  in  a  very  different 
light  by  one  whose  leanings  were  toward  Protes- 
tantism. 

It  is  perhaps  more  true  to  say  that  the  move- 
ment called  the  New  Devotion  is  one  manifestation 
of  a  tendency  which,  according  to  the  direction 
given  to  it,  may  become  either  a  source  of  addi- 
tional power,  or  a  cause  of  disruption.  This  is  not 
in  any  sense  a  controversial  work,  for  which,  in- 
deed, the  writer  has  no  qualifications,  and  these 
lives,  with  the  other  writings  of  a  Kempis,  may  be 
left  to  tell  their  own  story;  but  since  a  late  writer 
seems  to  represent  the  Reformation  as  the  "fruit" 
of  the  labour  of  the  Brothers  of  the  Common  Life 
(Kettlewell,  p.  379),  it  is  necessary  to  remark  that 
the  Founder  of  the  Brotherhood  uses  the  words, 
"Salvo  Semper  judicio  Sacrosanctae  Romanae 
ecclesiae  cui  humillime  undique  et  ubique  me 
submitto,"  and  his  followers  never  departed  from 
the  principle  here  laid  down.  Had  that  principle 
been  adopted  universally,  the  Reformation  could 
never  have  taken  the  course  it  did  take.  There  is 
a  wide  difference  between  protests  that  are  directed 


INTRODUCTION 

against  breaches  of  recognized  law,  and  objections 
made  to  the  system  of  which  those  laws  are  the 
Code.  The  former  was  the  course  taken  by  Groote 
and  his  followers,  while  Luther  for  good  or  evil 
chose  the  latter.  Moreover,  neither  Gerard  Groote 
nor  any  of  his  followers  whose  lives  are  written 
here,  attacked  any  doctrine  of  the  Catholic  creed, 
nor  did  they  claim  that  liberty  of  interpretation 
which  many  Reformers  allowed.  The  decline  of 
the  Community  coincided  with  the  rise  of  Pro- 
testantism, but  the  causes  of  that  decline  are  not 
far  to  seek.  In  the  first  place  the  Brothers  had 
supported  themselves  to  a  great  extent  by  copy- 
ing books,  a  source  of  revenue  which  came  to  an 
end  with  the  introduction  of  the  printing  press. 
Secondly,  their  schools  had  to  face  the  competi- 
tion of  similar  institutions  which  sprang  up  during 
the  fifteenth  and  sixteenth  centuries.  In  some 
cases  their  own  pupils  successfully  competed  with 
them,  in  others  the  Institutions  founded  by  the 
Society  of  Jesus  became  popular  at  the  expense 
of  the  schools  maintained  by  the  Brothers  of  the 
Common  Life.  Thirdly,  "  when  the  struggle  about 
the  Reformation  became  acute,  the  Papal  Party 
insisted  that  those  who  clave  to  the  Church  as  a 
divine  institution,  must  either  withdraw  from  their 
monasteries  or  give  in  their  adherence  to  them," 
and  "  This  led  to  a  great  disbandonment  of  the 
Brotherhood"  (Kettlewell,  p.  379).  From  this  it 
appears  that  even  in  the  later  days  to  which  the 
passage  quoted  refers,  the  Brotherhood  as  a  whole 
xl 


INTRODUCTION 

had  not  adopted  the  tenets  of  the  reforming  party, 
while  in  earlier  times,  as  we  have  already  seen, 
the  members  were  thoroughly  loyal  to  Rome;  in- 
deed, the  association  received  the  approbation  of 
the  Council  of  Constance,  which  would  not  have 
been  given  had  their  fidelity  been  suspected. 

The  text  which  had  been  adopted  for  this 
translation  is  that  of  Somalius,  which  was  pub- 
lished in  1600.  The  Editor  tells  us  in  his  preface 
that  he  collated  all  the  known  manuscripts,  and 
paid  special  attention  to  those  which  he  found 
written  in  a  Kempis's  own  hand,  in  the  monastery 
of  St.  Martin  at  Louvain;  he,  however,  omits,  as 
he  says,  certain  lives,  because  the  manuscripts 
were  in  so  bad  a  condition  that  he  could  make 
nothing  of  them.  It  appears  uncertain  whether 
these  omitted  lives  were  really  by  Thomas  a 
Kempis.  The  earliest  printed  edition  is  that  pub- 
lished at  Nuremberg  in  1492-1494^  which  copies 
are  to  be  found  in  the  Bodleian  Library  at  Oxford 
and  in  the  British  Museum,  and  this  edition  con- 
tains no  lives  other  than  those  given  by  Somalius. 
The  book  begins  with  the  "Imitation,"  which 
occupies  twenty-six  leaves,  and  goes  on  with 
"  Tractatus  de  meditatione  Cordis  Johannis  Ger- 
son,"  the  inclusion  of  which  work  in  a  volume 
devoted  to  Thomas  a  Kempis,  is  remarkable  in  view 
of  the  controversy  which  has  arisen  with  regard 
to  the  authorship  of  the  "Imitation,"  It  is  beside 
our  purpose  to  discuss  this  vexed  question,  as 
xli 


INTRODUCTION 

there  is  no  doubt  as  to  the  authenticity  of  the 
"  Lives  "  or  of  the  propriety  of  their  attribution  to 
a  Kempis,  but  it  may  be  worth  while  to  mention 
the  fact  that  the  present  writer  has  seen  a  MS. 
of  the  first  book  of  the  "  Imitatio,"  whose  date 
would  seem  to  be  about  1423,  in  which  that  work 
is  assigned  to  a  Carthusian  Monk. 

Besides  the  Nuremberg  Folio  there  are  other 
printed  editions  earlier  than  that  of  Somalius, 
which  the  latter  seems  to  have  consulted,  namely, 
the  works  of  a  Kempis  published  in  Paris  by 
Jodocus  Badius  Ascensius  in  1500,  and  re-issued 
in  1549.  For  purposes  of  correction  this  edition 
is  of  little  value,  since  the  same  blunders  and  mis- 
prints occur  frequently  both  in  this  and  in  Soma- 
lius' edition;  but  it  is  interesting  as  containing  a 
Life  of  a  Kempis  in  twelve  chapters  written  by 
the  Editor,  of  which  the  eighth  gives  some  further 
particulars  as  to  Gerard  Groote,  while  the  eleventh 
contains  a  long  exhortation  addressed  to  a  Kempis 
by  Florentius  Radewin. 

"  The  Lives  "  are  written  in  the  form  of  a  dia- 
logue between  an  elder  Brother  of  the  house  and 
a  Novice,  and  were  no  doubt  intended  for  the  in- 
struction of  those  who  should  join  the  Brother- 
hood. In  the  Nuremberg  Folio  the  whole  of 
Book  II  (the  Life  of  Florentius)  is  entitled  "  de 
humilitate  Christi,"  a  title  which  is  confined  in 
Somalius's  edition  to  the  first  chapter  of  this 
biography;  this  heading  gives  the  key-note  to  the 
whole  composition,  for  throughout  the  Lives  the 
xlii 


INTRODUCTION 

virtues  upon  which  the  author  insists  most  strongly 
are  those  of  humility  and  obedience.  There  are 
several  points  to  be  noted  with  reference  to  the 
matter  contained  in  these  biographies,  (l)  The 
use  of  quotations  from  the  Bible  is  somewhat 
peculiar,  or  at  least  may  strike  the  modern  reader 
as  being  so;  e.g.,  passages  are  taken  away  from 
their  context  and  made  to  bear  a  meaning  other 
than  that  which  they  were  intended  primarily  to 
convey.  This  "  mystical  interpretation  "  was  then 
regarded  as  legitimate,  and,  indeed,  is  still  so 
regarded  by  many  persons.  The  quotations  are  of 
course  from  the  Vulgate,  and  the  translations  are 
taken  usually  from  the  Douay  version. 

(2)  With  regard  to  the  last  chapter  of  Groote's 
Life,  it  is  obvious  from  a  perusal  of  the  original 
that  the  whole  is  taken  from  notes  made  by  Gerard 
himself,  which  notes  were  left  in  a  fragmentary 
condition, and  were  not  thrown  into  regular  literary 
form,  probably  because  they  were  intended  for 
the  writer's  own  guidance  and  not  for  publication. 
Thus  we  find  constant  changes  from  the  first  to 
the  second  person,  and  it  is  often  doubtful  where 
the  consideration  of  one  subject  ends  and  that  of 
another  begins;  this  is  particularly  noticeable  in 

§16. 

(3)  Hirsche  has  remarked  that  "  the  details 
given  in  these  eleven  biographies  are  either  de- 
rived from  the  personal  experiences  of  a  Kempis 
himself  or  are  drawn  from  the  testimony  of  re- 
liable witnesses,"  and  the  manner  in  which  some 

xliii 


INTRODUCTION 

of  the  incidents  are  related  suggests  that  even 
when  the  author  does  not  expressly  mention  his 
own  name  he  was  personally  concerned  in  the 
events  which  he  describes.  Thus  we  gather  a 
certain  amount  of  information  as  to  a  Kempis 
himself,  which  is  the  more  interesting  in  view  of 
the  scanty  knowledge  which  has  come  down  to  us 
directly  of  the  life  of  one  whose  name  has  become 
a  household  word. 

(4)  Appended  to  these  biographies  is  a  life  of 
the  Virgin  Lydewig,  to  whom  reference  is  made 
in  the  notice  of  Arnold  of  Schoonhoven.  This  life 
is  not  included  in  the  present  translation,  which 
is  devoted  to  the  Lives  of  Groote  and  his  followers 
only.  There  is  little  doubt,  however,  that  it  is  an 
authentic  work  of  a  Kempis,  as  a  copy  of  it  exists 
in  his  own  handwriting,  though  the  original  MSS., 
containing  the  Lives  of  the  eleven  Brethren  and 
the  chronicles  of  Mount  St.  Agnes  have  disap- 
peared. On  the  other  hand,  the  life  is  prefaced  by 
a  dedication  ascribing  it  to  "  Frater  N  pauper 
peregrinus,"  but  this  may  easily  refer  to  Thomas 
himself. 

I  have  already  disclaimed  any  intention  of 
entering  into  the  controversy  regarding  the  author- 
ship of  the  "  Imitatio,"  but  as  several  passages  in 
the  latter  work  are  closely  parallel  to  sentences 
in  the  Lives  it  seems  advisable  to  call  attention 
to  the  fact.  The  reader  will  find  particulars  in 
"  Hirsche,"  v.  2.  p.  523. 

(6)  The  date  of  the  composition  of  these  lives 
xliv 


INTRODUCTION 

cannot  be  determined  with  certainty.  Hirsche 
states  that  143°  's  tne  ^ast  date  that  occurs,  be- 
ing the  year  of  Arnold's  death,  but  as  I  have 
already  pointed  out,  the  text  which  has  been 
adopted  gives  1439  as  the  last  year  of  Henry 
Brune,  and  there  is  reason  to  think  that  this  date 
is  correct  since  Brune  is  said  to  have  lived  "long 
after  those  who  had  known  their  first  fervour  in 
the  Devout  Life  with  him."  All  we  can  say  on  the 
question  of  the  date  is  that  the  Lives  were  written 
later  than  1440  and  that  the  author  was  upwards 
of  sixty  years  of  age  when  he  wrote  them. 

Hitherto  no  complete  translation  of  the  Lives 
into  English  has  been  published,  although  several 
writers  have  made  extracts  from  them.  The  Rev. 
S.  Kettlewell  in  his  "  Thomas  a  Kempis  and  the 
Brothers  of  the  Common  Life  "  has  given  us  ver- 
sions of  selected  passages,  and  as  the  present 
translation  differs  widely  in  many  places  from  the 
versions  given  in  the  work  named  it  may  be  desir- 
able in  the  interests  of  accuracy  to  refer  to  some 
of  the  more  prominent  of  those  differences.  In 
Groote,  chap,  viii,  §  2,  we  have  a  passage  which 
runs  thus:  "  Cum  tuba  salutari  intonaret  .  .  .  com- 
mota  sunt  corda  plurimorum  a  facie  formidinis 
Domini,  et  a  ventura  ira  judicii  extremi,  et  ignis 
extremi  ":  according  to  Kettlewell  this  means  that 
Groote  "  entirely  abandoned  the  vulgar  arguments 
drawn  from  the  fears  of  Hell,"  an  interpretation 
which  is  both  impossible  in  view  of  the  original 
xlv 


INTRODUCTION 

text,  and  is  a  complete  misrepresentation  of 
Groote's  teaching  (Kettlewell,  op.  cit.,  2nd  ed.,  p. 
70).  Again  in  chap,  ix,  §  2,  we  have  "  Tanto 
libentius  doctrinam  audiebant  quanto  majora  pie- 
tatis  beneficia  in  eo  redundare  videbant."  Kettle- 
well  takes  this  to  mean  that  the  more  the  scribes 
listened  to  Gerard's  teaching  "  the  more  did  they 
seem  to  abound  in  beneficent  acts  of  piety,"  (Kettle- 
well,  p.  72.)  So,  too,  in  Florentius,  chap,  xiv,  §  3, 
"  Incontinenti  expedivit"  is  rendered  by  "he 
extricated  the  incontinent  man "  (Kettlewell,  p. 
106),  whereas  the  passage  means,  as  I  think,  "  he 
settled  the  matter  out  of  hand":  and  in  chap,  xix, 
§  3>  "  quod  cuidam  revelatum  esset  quod  adhuc 
supervicturus  esset"  is  translated  "it  was  revealed 
respecting  him  to  some  one  who  is  still  living,"  a 
rendering  which  is  grammatically  impossible. 

Such  slips  as  "  a  quarter  of  an  hour  "  for  "  quarta 
hora,"  "liquor"  for  "cibus,"  "soul"  for  "mensa," 
and  the  like,  are  of  small  moment,  but  they  show 
at  least  that  to  differ  from  a  translator  who  com- 
mitted such  blunders  does  not  argue  a  great 
amount  of  audacity.  More  serious,  however,  are 
such  mistakes  as  that  made  in  the  "  Life  of  John 
Ketel,"  when  Kettlewell  makes  a  Kempis  say  that 
John  was  "  so  lately  well  known  to  me  "  instead 
of  "  in  old  days  well  known,"  etc.  In  regard  to 
this  it  is  only  necessary  to  observe  that  Ketel  had 
been  dead  for  more  than  forty  years  when  a  Kem- 
pis wrote  these  words,  and  to  use  the  phrase  "  so 
lately"  is  to  confuse  dates.  It  is  not  necessary  to 
xlvi 


INTRODUCTION 

multiply  instances  of  the  mistakes,  more  or  less 
important,  made  by  this  translator,  but  the  re- 
liability of  his  work  may  be  judged  by  "  quid 
praetendit  ille  bonus  homo  " — what  a  good  man 
he  has  shown  himself  to  be;  "  integros  panes  " — 
"the  whole  of  the  bread"  though  the  context 
requires  "  whole  loaves:  "  "  ferens  patienter  verba 
increpantis  " — "  hearing  the  words  with  incredible 
patience."  All  these  blunders  occur  in  the  transla- 
tion of  a  single  page  of  the  Latin. 

Kettlewell's  work,  however,  is  not  without  its 
value,  as  apart  from  his  extracts  from  the  Lives, 
it  contains  much  information  that  is  of  interest  to 
students  of  a  Kempis,  and  the  present  writer  would 
not  have  singled  out  the  above  passages  for  adverse 
comment  but  for  his  desire  to  justify  himself  in 
differing  from  one  who  is  regarded  as  a  leading 
authority. 


xlvii 


THE   LIFE    OF   THE   REVEREND    MASTER 

GERARD  THE   GREAT  COMMONLY 

CALLED  GROOTE 


THE 
LIFE  OF  GERARD  THE  GREAT 

PREFACE 

#£  The  Preface  to  the  life  of  the  venerable  Master 
Gerard  the  Great,  commonly  called  "  Groote  " 

(O 

ITH  the  help  of  God,  and  daring 
much  for  the  sake  of  Charity,  I 
will  try,  my  most  beloved  brother, 
to  set  forth  the  acts  of  the  Fathers, 
though  I  recount  but  few  out  of 
many:  and  this  I  do  by  reason  of 
thy  frequent  importunities,  and  for  the  common 
good. 

Now  since  many  Fathers  and  devout  brethren, 
who  were  of  old  well  known  to  me,  are  fallen 
asleep,  I  fear  not  to  speak  of  their  virtues,  that 
by  so  doing  I  may  leave  a  good  memorial  of  them 
to  those  that  come  after,  when  I  speak  of  the  ex- 
cellent example  which  they  set,  to  enhance  yet 
more  the  honour  of  the  name  of  God.  I  will  begin 
therefore  from  that  notable  and  devout  preacher 
the  venerable  Master  Gerard  who  is  surnamed 
"  Groote." 


THE  LIFE  OF  GERARD  THE  GREAT 

(2)  After  this,  if  the  Lord  will,  I  will  add  further 
certain  examples  of  holy  couversation,  drawn  from 
the  lives  of  those  devout  brethren  who  were  his 
disciples,  hoping  thereby  to  stir  up  thy  devotion, 
and  that  of  other  single-minded  brethren. 

Though  I  did  not  see  Gerard  in  the  flesh,  yet 
have  I  known  in  the  body  divers  men  who  owned 
discipleship  to  him,  and  from  these  I  have  often 
heard  of  his  good  deeds;  so  that  thou  must  not 
think  that  I  have  devised  these  things  of  mine  own 
imagination,  but  rather  that  I  have  received  a  faith- 
ful relation  thereof  from  trusty  persons,  both  men 
and  women. 


CHAPTER  I 

*£  Of  the  origin  and  interpretation  of  Gerard's 


0) 
j  HE  venerable  Master  Gerard,  called 
the  "  Great,"  was  a  citizen  of  the 
city  of  Deventer,  born  of  honour- 
able parents  of  that  same  place, 
and  tenderly  nurtured  by  the  lov- 
ing care  of  his  family;  the  name 


which  he  inherited  from  his  earthly  parents  was 
apt  enough,  but  by  Divine  providence  it  was  after- 
wards changed  for  a  better ;  for  he  who  had  ex- 
changed his  former  manner  of  life  for  a  new  mode 
of  living,  justly  deserved  that  his  name  too  should 
have  a  godly  signification  by  reason  of  his  signal 
virtues,  as  the  following  narrative  will  show. 

(2)  His  name  Gerard  may  be  interpreted  as 
meaning  one  "  gerens  artes,"  that  is,  "  cultivating 
the  arts,"  because  beinggiven  up  to  literary  studies 
he  was  deeply  learned  in  the  liberal  arts  and  in 
many  sciences:  or  again  the  interpretation  may 
be  "gerens  ardorem" — one  who  cultivates  a  burn- 
ing zeal — because,  being  mercifully  prevented  by 
the  grace  of  God,  his  inner  man  was  inflamed  by 
5 


THE  LIFE  OF 

the  love  of  Christ,  and  moved  by  an  irresistible 
impulse  to  enhance  the  Glory  of  God:  or  thirdly 
one  may  say  that  he  was  rightly  named  Gerard 
as  being  one  "  gerens  ardua  " — cultivating  that 
which  is  on  high — because  being  wholly  turned 
to  God,  he  during  his  life  did  mighty  and  lofty 
deeds,  lifting  his  mind  earnestly  to  the  contempla- 
tion of  heavenly  things,  and  by  his  preaching  con- 
verted many  peoples  to  the  amending  of  their  lives. 
His  life,  his  words,  his  character,  and  his  teach- 
ing were  a  light  and  a  flame  to  all  this  land  of 
ours:  so  in  fact,  as  in  name,  he  was  "great"  in 
the  world — endowed  with  wealth,  honour,  learn- 
ing, and  high  place:  yet  his  greatness  stood  out 
more  conspicuously  from  his  contempt  of  worldli- 
ness,  and  his  imitation  of  the  lowly  life  of  Jesus 
Christ,  and  also  from  the  abundant  harvest  of  fol- 
lowers whom  he  brought  to  Him,  as  the  traces  left 
behind  him  do  clearly  show. 

(3)  This  man  therefore  shall  be  held  in  per- 
petual memory,  a  man  who  in  our  own  day  was  a 
teacher,  following  the  regulations  of  the  orthodox 
faith;  and  one  who  by  his  pious  example  restored 
the  position  of  our  Holy  Religion.  Although  for 
a  long  time  he  mixed  carelessly  and  thoughtlessly 
in  the  concerns  of  this  world,  yet,  after  his  con- 
version, his  life  was  truly  exemplary,  being  spent 
in  the  deepest  humility  and  devotion,  in  holy 
poverty  and  frequent  fasting,  a  life  too  which  he 
ended  well  and  with  a  happy  issue  of  his  strife. 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

CHAPTER  II 

6€  Of  bis  rapid  progress  at  the  University  of  Paris 

(0 

HEN  he  was  growing  toward  man- 
hood, Gerard  was  sent  by  his 
parents  to  the  University  of  Paris, 
and  being  furnished  with  abundant 
means,  beyond  those  of  many  of  his  companions, 
he  busied  himself  with  those  pursuits  for  the  sake 
of  which  he  had  come.  At  that  time  he  was  not 
seeking  the  glory  of  Christ  as  the  end  of  his 
studies,  but  pursuing  the  shadow  of  a  great  re- 
putation he  was  chiefly  anxious  for  the  praise  of 
men. 

(2)  In  a  short  time,  however,  having  passed 
through  the  usual  course  for  students,  he  eagerly 
sought  for  higher  place ;  and  in  virtue  of  his  good 
understanding,  a  Master  of  Arts  degree  was  con- 
ferred upon  him  in  the  eighteenth  year  of  his  age. 
Having  gained  this  degree,  and  being  fired  by  a 
natural  genius  and  puffed  up  with  worldly  know- 
ledge, he  was  rewarded  with  preferment  in  the 
Church,  and  received  amongst  other  benefices  a 
Canonry  in  the  Church  of  Aix.  But  hitherto  he 
walked  in  the  broad  ways  of  the  world,  not  being 
yet  inspired,  until  by  the  mercy  of  God  he  was 
changed  into  another  man. 


THE  LIFE  OF 


CHAPTER  III 


<t€  How  his  conversion  was  revealed  to  a  hermit  in 
Cologne 

c) 

UT  inasmuch  as  the  Almighty  and  mer- 
ciful God, who  alone  workethgreatmar- 
vels,  had  decreed  to  loose  this  learned 
and  most  famous  Master  from  the  bonds 
of  this  present  world,  He  brought  the  process  of 
that  conversion  to  full  effect;  and  this  conversion, 
unexpected  and  unknown  to  the  generality  of  men, 
was  beforehand  revealed  and  foretold  to  a  certain 
hermit  in  Cologne. 

(2)  For  when  on  a  time  Gerard  was  in  that  city 
and  wandering  idly  was  watching  some  worldly 
games,  the  aforesaid  hermit,  expressly  mention- 
ing the  name  and  describing  the  dress  of  Gerard, 
foretold  that  his  conversion  should  shortly  be 
brought  to  pass,  and  should  be  of  profit  to  many. 
Wherefore  a  certain  man,  who  knew  of  this 
prophecy,  came  to  Gerard  where  he  was  standing, 
and  said,  "  Why  standest  thou  thus  intent  upon 
empty  things?  Thou  oughtest  to  become  another 
man." 

This  saying  about  himself  Gerard  thought  but 
childishness,  nor  did  he  at  the  time  dwell  much 
upon  it;  but  God  who  hath  foreknowledge  of  the 
future  and  doth  not  deceive,  after  a  short  time 
brought  the  word  to  pass  as  He  had  fore-ordained, 
aud  re-called  to  Himself  Gerard  whom  He  loved, 
from  the  paths  of  iniquity  to  the  state  of  godly 
living,  working  by  means  of  a  Religious  of  the 
Carthusian  order. 

8 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

CHAPTER  IV 

*€  How  he  was  drawn  to  God  hy  the  Carthusian 

(0 

HERE  was  in  the  district  of  Gelders, 
near  the  city  of  Arnheim,  a  certain 
Religious  that  was  Prior  of  the  Car- 
thusian Monastery  in  Monichuysen,  a 
man  of  learning  and  piety  who  had  formerly,  when 
in  the  world,  been  intimate  with  Gerard.  This 
man  being  full  of  compassion  and  drawn  towards 
his  neighbour  by  his  zeal  for  souls,  began  to  con- 
sider in  what  way  he  could  have  speech  with 
Gerard  and  treat  in  private  with  him  for  his  sal- 
vation, so  that  a  man  so  great,  and  a  master  so 
learned  might  not  perish  in  the  world,  but  might 
be  snatched  from  out  the  snares  of  the  Devil  by 
the  aid  of  God  and  be  joined  to  the  number  of  the 
elect. 

Now  at  that  time  particularly  the  disposition  of 
the  world  seemed  to  be  on  all  sides  turned  to  evil, 
so  that  there  were  few  who  preached  the  Word  of 
Life  both  by  example  and  precept,  and  fewer  still 
who  followed  the  rule  of  continency ;  and  this  was 
above  all  things  lamentable,  that  those  who  pro- 
fessed the  name  of  Holy  Religion  and  the  state  of 
the  Devout  Life  through  lack  of  inspiration  fol- 
lowed but  lamely  in  the  footprints  of  the  Fathers 
who  had  gone  before.  Amongst  the  Carthusians 
indeed  the  light  of  the  Heavenly  Life  remained, 
though  hidden;  to  carnal  men  their  rule  seemed 
to  be  austere  enough,  but  yet  it  was  most  accept- 
able to  God,  and  to  men  of  fervent  spirit  a  thing 
pleasant  and  worthy  to  be  chosen. 
9 


THE  LIFE  OF 

(2)  Meantime  it  happened  that  for  some  reason 
which  arose,  the  aforesaid  Prior  went  to  Utrecht, 
and  when  he  knew  that  his  beloved  Gerard  was 
there  he  hastened  lovingly  to  hold  converse  with 
him;  and  soon,  on  a  good  opportunity,  let  down 
the  net  of  holy  exhortation  to  draw  this  great  fish 
from  the  waves  of  worldliness. 

He  approached  Gerard  as  his  familiar  friend, 
greeted  him  as  his  old  comrade  and  exhorted  him 
with  words  of  wisdom  as  his  kindly  host :  he 
spoke  to  him  as  to  a  man  of  learning  of  "  The 
Sovereign  Good  "  ;  he  laid  before  him  the  rewards 
of  Eternity  and  the  terrors  of  the  judgement  to 
come,  with  mingled  kindliness  and  severity:  he 
praised  the  Religious  Life,  and  denounced  the 
ways  of  the  world,  showing  that  everything  be- 
neath the  sun  shall  perish.  "Death,"  he  said, 
"  doth  hang  over  every  man,  but  the  day  and 
hour  of  death  are  unknown.  But  oh!  how  great 
are  the  gifts  promised  to  those  that  follow  Christ." 
The  grace  of  God  was  present  with  them  during 
this  holy  converse,  which  was  oftentimes  repeated; 
the  heart  of  the  hearer  was  softened,  and  the  re- 
verend Master  believed  the  words  spoken  to  him  ; 
he  assented  to  the  Prior's  words  as  true,  and  was 
led  by  his  reasoning;  he  was  attracted  by  the 
promises,  and  confirmed  by  the  examples  of  the 
Saints.  At  length  he  resolved  to  change  his  mode 
of  life  for  a  better,  and  by  the  favour  of  God  to 
renounce  the  pomps  of  the  world. 

(3)  The  Prior,  perceiving  this,  was  greatly  de- 
lighted in  that  the  seed  from  God  had  fallen  upon 
good  ground :  and  he  rejoiced  with  exceeding  joy 
over  this  great  fish  which  was  caught  by  the  hook 
of  Christ  to  be  drawn  thereby  the  sooner  from  the 
whirlpools  of  the  Sea.    He  returned  joyfully  to  his 

10 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

community  and  rendered  thanks  to  God  from 
Whom  is  every  good  thing,  and  confessed  that  he 
himself  had  not  framed  his  discourse  in  vain. 
"  For,"  quoth  he,  "  I  have  hopes  that  I  have  cap- 
tured Gerard,  and  in  regard  to  his  conversion  I 
have  faith  that  he  will  be  ready  to  hold  to  his  good 
resolution  and  to  prove  it  by  his  deeds."  Oh !  over- 
powering and  glorious  mercy  of  our  Saviour !  Oh ! 
unspeakable  virtue  and  grace  of  the  Holy  Ghost, 
which  with  ease  can  change  the  heart  of  man 
when  He  taketh  up  His  abode  therein,  and  doth 
enlighten  it.  This  is  the  transformingpower  of  the 
right  Hand  of  the  most  High  Who  doeth  marvels 
in  the  heaven  above,  and  showeth  signs  in  the  earth 
beneath:  Who  driveth  away  the  darkness  and 
poureth  light  into  the  heart.  This  is  the  mighty 
power  of  God  alone,  who  with  the  blessings  of  His 
mercy  hath  prevented  His  beloved  servant,  Gerard, 
and  hath  changed  him  from  a  lion  into  a  lamb. 
Before  time  was  He  ordained  that  Gerard  should 
be  one  with  Himself,  and  in  the  fullness  of  time 
He  hath  made  him  ready  to  preach  the  Word  of 
good  tidings  to  many  cities  and  peoples,  for  the 
glory  and  honour  of  His  Holy  Name. 


CHAPTER  V 

<t€  Of  his  change  of  garb  and  character 

(0 

OT  long  afterwards,  Gerard  began  to 
carry  into  effect  that  upon  which  of  his 
own  good  will  he  had  determined.    So 
.,  his  mind  being  made  sure,  and  con- 
firmed in  Christ,  he  resigned  all  his  preferments, 
11 


THE  LIFE  OF 

and  changed  his  secular  dress  for  a  simple  habit 
as  befitted  an  humble  clerk  who  prefers  the  con- 
tempt of  the  world  before  riches. 

A  rumour  went  abroad  amongst  the  people ;  and 
many  wondering  at  the  strangeness  of  the  matter, 
spoke  to  one  another  saying  "  What  can  his  reason 
be, and  what  change  hath  befallen  him;  hath  much 
learning  made  him  mad?  Lo!  he  who  formerly 
went  in  fair  clothing,  now  is  clad  in  rough  and  sad 
coloured  wool.  He  who  delighted  in  feasting  and 
in  varied  meats,  doth  now  reject  pleasant  food,  and 
seeketh  poor  fare;  he  doth  flee  from  high  place, 
and  loveth  poverty."  But  yet  the  hand  of  God  was 
with  him,  and  he  began  to  labour  faithfully  in  the 
name  of  the  Lord. 

(2)  Holding  the  common  talk  and  vain  chatter 
of  men  in  small  esteem,  Gerard  turned  himself  to 
God  with  the  strength  of  his  whole  heart,  for  he 
said,  "  I  have  chosen  to  be  an  abject  in  the  house 
of  my  God  rather  than  to  dwell  in  the  tabernacles 
of  sinners";  and  so,  God  working  with  him,  he 
exchanged  riches  for  poverty,  pride  for  humility, 
luxury  for  self-denial,  unstableness  for  a  stedfast 
mind,  worldliness  for  a  spiritual  life,  subtlety  for 
devotion  and  singlemindedness.  While  the  people 
were  talking  and  wondering  at  the  sudden  change 
in  so  great  a  man,  one  of  his  fellow  citizens  who 
was  of  high  position  came  to  him  secretly,  wishing 
to  know  more  fully  the  purpose  of  the  reverend 
master  in  fleeing  from  the  joyous  companionship 
of  the  world. 

(3)  And  when  he  had  inquired  anxiously  of 
him  about  many  things,  and  had  heard  fully  the 
explanation  of  the  mystery  of  Gerard's  renuncia- 
tion, he  was  so  instructed  in  the  matters  of  which 
he  had  doubted,  that  he  went  away  greatly  edified 

12 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

and  said:  "Why  do  these  ignorant  and  vulgar 
folk  speak  words  so  senseless  of  this  good  and 
prudent  man?  Never  was  he  so  wise  and  full  of 
knowledge  as  when  of  late  he  fled  from  the  world 
and  left  its  ways,  and  in  an  humble  spirit  resolved 
to  be  the  servant  of  God.  How  happy  would  that 
man  be  who  should  be  willing  to  imitate  rather 
than  to  insult  one  who  hath  done  so  well.  If  he 
shall  continue  in  this  good  course,  he  shall  be  the 
means  of  much  good." 


CHAPTER  VI 

♦€  How  he  separated  himself  from  fellowship  with 
worldlings 

<f> 

EST  the  holy  seed  planted  in  Gerard's 
heart  by  God  should  be  trodden  under 
foot  of  them  that  passed  by,  or  lying 
uncovered  should  be  devoured  by  the 
fowls  of  the  air;  lest  the  light  that  was  kindled  in 
him  should  be  extinguished  by  an  empty  wind,  in 
place  of  being  kept  beneath  a  bushel  and  nour- 
ished by  the  oil  of  inward  devotion;  and  lest  the 
tender  and  fragile  reed,  being  blown  about  by  the 
breeze  of  vanity,  should  be  soon  bent  earthward 
and  not  strengthened  with  power  from  on  High, 
the  humble  Gerard  resolved  to  go  apart  for  a  time, 
to  separate  himself  carefully  from  worldly  sights 
and  converse,  to  release  his  mind  from  all  the 
cares  of  the  world,  and  to  be  at  leisure  for  the 
things  of  God  only,  and  for  his  own  soul.  By  this 
means  he  would  first  learn  in  his  own  person  that 
of  which  he  must  afterward  become  a  teacher, 
13 


THE  LIFE  OF 

and  having  tasted  the  sweetness  of  the  things  of 
God,  he  would  more  calmly  bear  adversity  for  the 
truth's  sake,  and  not  fear  the  assaults  of  the  Devil 
which  might  be  brought  against  him. 

(2)  He  departed  therefore  from  his  city,  and 
from  his  father's  house,  and  came  to  the  country 
of  Gelders  to  the  Carthusian  Brothers  in  Moni- 
chuysen  whom  he  loved  in  the  love  of  Christ.  By 
these  he  was  received  with  reverence  and  was 
given  a  cell  as  being  a  guest  worthy  to  be  loved: 
and  entering  into  it  joyfully  and  eagerly  he  said 
in  the  exultation  of  his  soul  with  Blessed  Peter, 
"  Lord,  it  is  good  for  us  to  be  here." 

There  he  called  back  his  heart  from  its  former 
wanderings,  there  he  wiped  away  the  mildew  of 
his  old  life  and  restored  the  image  of  his  inner 
man  to  purity — there  he  broke  the  rising  storms 
of  passion  by  watching  and  by  fast,  and  overcame 
the  various  assaults  of  Devils  by  prayer  and  tears, 
saying  with  Holy  David,  "  Lo  1  have  gone  far  off 
flying  away;  and  I  abode  in  the  wilderness.  I 
waited  for  him  that  hath  saved  me  from  pusillan- 
imity of  spirit  and  a  storm."  I  too  have  seen  the 
place  of  his  habitation,  in  which  this  light  of  God, 
this  friend  of  the  Almighty,  was  hidden  for  a 
season,  until  he  should  be  placed  upon  a  candle- 
stick, that  he  might  show  an  example  of  light 
to  all. 


H 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 


CHAPTER  VII 

*e  Of  his  abstinence,  and  the  shirt  of  hair  which 
he  wore 

(0 

HIS  new  soldier  of  Christ  therefore, 
fearlessly  took  his  post  in  the  Car- 
thusian Camp:  and  within  he  was  not 
overcome  by  the  weariness  of  his  cell, 
nor  abroad  was  he  broken  down  by  the  burden 
of  his  toil,  but  as  a  true  son  of  the  Cloister  he 
kept  watch  over  both  heart  and  lips.  Moreover 
he  carefully  tilled  the  field  of  his  own  heart, 
making  a  daily  and  rigorous  inspection  of  the 
same,  rooting  out  the  thorns  of  vice  and  sowing 
the  seeds  of  virtue. 

So  Gerard  waging  spiritual  warfare  against 
flesh  and  blood,  was  by  his  retreat  strongly  armed 
against  himself  that  he  might  the  more  quickly 
overthrow  the  Devil,  the  Ruler  of  this  world  and 
the  Prince  of  Darkness. 

He  did  not  pamper  himself,  as  loving  luxury, 
nor  spare  himself  as  being  weak,  nor  make  ex- 
cuses for  himself  as  being  innocent,  nor  put  off 
the  time  of  repentance  like  a  careless  and  luke- 
warm servant;  but  mindful  of  his  former  evil 
living,  he  took  unto  him  the  spirit  of  contrition, 
and  for  the  name  of  Jesus,  crucified  his  own  flesh 
with  its  affections  and  lusts,  desiring  to  win  favour 
in  the  sight  of  Christ.  Though  his  body  was  frail, 
he  laid  upon  it  frequent  fasts;  he  abstained  from 
flesh  (as  is  the  custom  of  the  Carthusian  order), 
and  also  from  many  foods  which  that  Custom 
allows;  he  prolonged  the  watches  of  the  night, 
15 


THE  LIFE  OF 

and  drove  away  the  heaviness  of  sleep  from  his 
eyes  by  standing-,  by  prayer  and  by  genuflexion; 
and  in  the  spirit  of  devotion  he  compelled  the 
body  to  be  a  slave  to  the  soul. 

(2)  He  girt  his  loins  with  a  cloth  of  hair  which 
was  very  rough  and  full  of  knots  that  the  wan- 
tonness of  the  flesh  might  not  allure  him:  and  he 
faithfully  mortified  the  body  for  the  soul's  sake, 
constraining  his  reins  with  the  firm  strength  of 
purity.  Thus  he  truly,  and  to  the  very  letter  ful- 
filled the  words  of  the  prophet  in  the  Psalm,  and 
could  justly  say,  "  But  as  for  me,  when  they  were 
troublesome  to  me  I  was  clothed  with  hair-cloth." 

"  O  good  Master  who  were  they  that  were  thine 
enemies  in  the  Cloister?" 

"  Verily  the  desires  of  the  flesh,  the  allurements 
of  the  world,  and  the  temptations  of  the  Devil." 

"  Wondrous  is  it  that  in  this  retreat  where  thou 
dwellest  far  from  worldly  things  thou  shouldest 
have  temptations!" 

"  I  am  not  safe,  neither  I  nor  any  man  who  is 
born  in  sinful  flesh ;  but  that  I  may  not  be  over- 
come of  depraved  affections  or  moved  by  evil  ex- 
ample I  have  sought  a  place  of  solitude  in  the 
greater  hope  of  divine  protection.  Even  Christ 
Himself  was  never  so  openly  tempted  as  when  He 
entered  into  the  desert  and  fasted  from  food,  and 
yet  He  was  not  disturbed  by  any  human  passion. 
I,  therefore,  who  am  a  sinner,  that  I  may  give  the 
more  satisfaction  to  my  God,  have  withdrawn  my- 
self from  men  and  humbled  my  soul  with  fasting 
that  my  prayer  might  be  turned  into  mine  own 
bosom." 

A  certain  devout  sister,  whom  Gerard  had  con- 
verted, told  me  certain  things:  how  that  after  his 
death  she  saw  his  hair  shirt,  and  touched  it  with 
16 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

her  hands;  it  was  very  long  and  rough  and  had 
many  knots  in  it  for  the  infliction  of  greater  pun- 
ishment upon  him. 


CHAPTER  VIII 

<t£  How,  by  the  advice  of  the  Monks,  he  began  to 
preach  the  word  of  God 

(>) 

UT  as  the  devout  and  learned  Master 
continued  in  the  increase  of  virtue,  and 
in  proportion  as  Christ  grew  more  sweet 
to  him  so  much  the  more  did  the  world 
become  of  no  account  in  his  sight:  and  when  by 
the  ordinance  of  God  the  time  of  his  fruit-bearing 
was  at  hand,  it  was  determined  by  these  wise  and 
religious  brethren  that  this  burning  and  shining 
light  should  be  placed  upon  a  candlestick  to  give 
light  to  them  that  are  of  the  household  of  God,  in 
order  that  by  the  voice  of  his  preaching,  and  by 
the  example  of  his  holy  conversation  he  might 
kindle  the  hearts  of  sinners. 

It  would  have  been  good  that  a  man  of  such 
mighty  power  should  be  continually  at  leisure  for 
the  things  of  God  and  his  own  soul  in  the  solitude 
of  the  Cloister,  but  they  hoped  to  gain  yet  greater 
good  and  higher  glory  for  God  by  sending  him 
forth;  because  a  learned  man  like  Gerard  who 
was  apt  for  preaching  but  less  apt  for  bearing  the 
burden  of  a  Religious  order — one  moreover  who 
had  learned  to  tread  the  path  of  humility  by  de- 
spising all  earthly  things — would  be  of  profit  to 
more  souls  by  openly  preaching  the  Word  of  life. 
By  so  doing  he  would  bring  the  greatest  gain  to 
17  c 


THE  LIFE  OF 

Christ  and  lead  many  with  him  to  the  eternal 
kingdom;  and  the  more  fervently  he  laboured  for 
the  salvation  of  souls  in  this  present  world,  so 
much  the  more  glorious  would  he  be  in  the  world 
to  come. 

(2)  For  three  years  he  devoted  himself  to  study 
and  prayer  before  he  began  to  preach;  thus  this 
faithful  herald  was  furnished  with  spiritual  armour, 
and  with  the  writings  of  the  Scriptures,  that  he 
might  announce  the  good  tidings  of  the  Word  of 
God  in  the  cities  andvillages;  he  had  many  hearers 
both  clerks  and  lay  folk  as  well  as  the  Religious 
Orders:  men  and  women;  small  and  great;  learned 
and  unlearned;  men  of  high  degree  and  coun- 
cillors; rulers,  slaves  and  free;  rich  and  poor; 
men  of  the  land  and  strangers.  When  he  sounded 
upon  the  trumpet  of  salvation  withholding  from 
the  ears  of  his  hearers  no  note  that  was  necessary 
thereunto,  but  openly  proclaiming  the  full  pur- 
pose of  God  for  all  men  according  to  their  state, 
condition,  sex  and  age,  the  hearts  of  many  were 
moved  to  flee  from  before  the  face  of  the  anger  of 
God,  the  coming  wrath  of  the  last  judgement  and  the 
final  fires  of  Hell.  He  "  placed  the  axe  to  the  root 
of  the  tree,"  according  to  the  saying  of  the  blessed 
John  the  Baptist — "  Let  all  men  therefore  "  (said 
he)  "  fear  the  strict  judge,  abandon  sin,  and  bring 
forth  fruits  meet  for  repentance — let  them  be  for- 
ward to  do  the  will  of  their  Holy  Creator  and 
appease  Him,  by  being  instant  in  prayer,  alms- 
giving, and  fasts." 

Many  who  heard  his  discourse  were  pricked  to 
the  heart,  and  coming  to  him  yielded  themselves 
to  his  direction,  putting  away  all  the  vanity  of  the 
world.  Some  also  in  their  zeal  for  chastity  re- 
mained virgin,  and  some  who  had  taken  the  vow 
18 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

of  continency  gathered  together  others  with  them 
for  the  service  of  God. 

(3)  But  since  the  righteousness  of  the  good  sufFer- 
eth  the  envy  of  evil  men,  some  persons  of  corrupt 
mind,  lovers  of  the  world  and  followers  of  luxuri- 
ous living,  often  spoke  against  Gerard,  for  they 
hated  the  way  of  truth,  and  were  enemies  of  every 
good  thing. 

These  persons  secretly  defamed  the  man  of  God, 
and  sometimes  by  open  railing  strove  to  stir  up  a 
tumult  against  him,  and  that  because  he  argued 
with  severity  against  their  own  vices  and  crimes: 
but  a  yet  more  wicked  thing  was  done,  in  that 
certain  priests  and  prelates  and  wandering  friars 
thought  it  unworthy  to  bear  with  the  teaching  of 
so  great  a  man  and  with  his  eagerness  for  justice 
to  be  done  upon  those  that  deserted  the  holy  law. 
They  strove  therefore  to  blacken  his  fame,  and  to 
fight  down  his  constancy  of  purpose,  of  whom  he 
himself  writes  in  one  of  his  letters.  "  Many  snarling 
folk  are  come  about  me,  who  rage  even  as  the  fire 
among  the  thorns,  but  they  do  not  appear  openly." 
Wherefore  this  lover  of  Christ,  this  zealot  for  souls, 
was  neither  shaken  by  the  threats  of  his  enemies, 
nor  vexed  by  the  dispraise  of  them  that  upbraided 
him;  for  he  was  founded  upon  a  strong  rock  be- 
cause he  sought  not  the  glory  of  the  world,  nor 
feared  to  suffer  shame  for  Christ.  He  was  ready 
indeed  for  the  truth's  sake,  and  for  the  Gospel  of 
God,  to  yield  up  both  body  and  soul  so  as  to  pro- 
mote, and  wheresoever  it  might  be,  to  extend  His 
glory.  And  so  blessed  be  God  who  raised  up  for 
us  such  a  preacher  and  sent  him  forth  to  preach; 
for  it  was  through  him  that  there  shone  upon  us 
who  are  in  this  lower  world,  the  Light  of  the 
Heavenly  Life. 

19 


THE  LIFE  OF 


CHAPTER  IX 


m*  Of  his  labours,  and  bis  patience  toward  bis 
enemies 

(>) 

T  were  a  long  task  to  tell  of  the  labours 
which  he  underwent  in  preaching,  the 
conflicts  of  disputation  which  he  main- 
tained against  subverters  of  the  faith, 
and  the  exhortations  which  he  delivered  to  streng- 
then in  their  holy  purposes  the  brethren  and 
sisters  who  had  given  themselves  to  the  devout 
life.  These  things  are  most  clearly  shown  in  the 
letters  which  he  wrote  to  divers  persons  for  their 
consolation.  Thus  he  says  in  one  letter  written  to 
the  priests  in  Amsterdam,  who  were  very  well 
known  to  him.  "  Be  not  afraid,  my  most  beloved, 
if  ye  have  heard  my  evil  report  from  the  men  of 
Kempen.  All  things  are  turning  out  as  I  hope  in 
accordance  with  the  will  of  God.  Let  Charity 
burn  within  us  with  no  sluggish  flame  but  fiercely. 
Let  us  despise  these  filthy  communications  and 
be  ensamples  of  the  Most  High,  to  the  Glory  of 
our  Creator." 

When  he  perceived  that  many  prelates  of  the 
Church  were  opposed  to  him,  and  that  his  preach- 
ing was  being  hindered  by  the  envy  of  his  enemies, 
and  that  he  was  forbidden  to  preach  by  an  edict 
craftily  obtained,  he  yielded  in  a  spirit  of  humility 
to  this  rage  and  envy,  being  unwilling  to  stir  up  a 
tumult  amongst  the  people  against  the  clergy. 
Moreover,  he  said  to  the  common  folk  who  took 
ill  this  inhibition  as  having  been  obtained  by  false- 
20 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

hood:  "They  are  our  prelates,  and  as  is  fit- 
ting and  due  we  wish  to  obey  their  edicts;  for  we 
seek  not  to  hurt  any,  nor  to  stir  up  a  scandal. 
The  Lord  well  knoweth  His  own  whom  He  hath 
chosen  from  the  beginning-,  and  He  will  also  call 
them  by  His  grace,  without  our  aid,  in  what  man- 
ner soever  He  will."  He  therefore  held  his  peace 
for  a  time,  and  meanwhile  gave  himself  to  private 
exhortation,  counting  out  the  riches  of  the  Word 
of  Consolation  with  an  eager  heart  to  all  who 
came  to  him, — as  also  the  blessed  Paul  saith : 
— "  and  I  myself  will  be  spent  for  your  souls, 
seeking  not  what  is  profitable  to  myself  but  to 
many." 

(2)  He  also  caused  several  books  of  sacred 
theology  to  be  written  out  by  the  pupils  whom  he 
attracted  to  him  by  his  excellent  discourses:  he 
paid  them  wages,  inviting  them  to  come  to  his  own 
house  and  hear  the  Word  of  God  more  often,  that 
80  he  might  dispose  them  to  chastity,  and  to  the 
amending  of  their  lives,  by  which  means  they 
might  become  partakers  of  everlasting  blessed- 
ness, being  fashioned  to  a  new  and  holy  life,  if  they 
should  renounce  worldly  courses.  Meanwhile  with 
Godly  prudence  he  did  not  pay  all  their  wages  at 
one  time,  but  divided  the  money  into  several  por- 
tions, in  order  that  they  might  often  come,  and 
with  such  opportunities  for  intercourse  with  him 
might  find  grace;  and  these  men  came  the  more 
gladly  as  they  saw  beneficent  acts  of  holiness 
abounding  in  him — for  Gerard  earnestly  strove  to 
win  some  of  these  writers  to  Christ,  a  purpose 
which  by  the  favour  of  God  was  shortly  brought 
to  pass.  He  loved  to  speak  with  such  simple- 
minded  and  less  learned  men  rather  than  with  the 
wise  of  the  world,  because  the  innocent  and  the 
21 


THE  LIFE  OF 

needy  for  the  most  part  give  place  to  the  pur- 
poses of  God  more  readily  than  the  worldly-wise 
who  trust  in  their  own  wisdom.  For  which  things' 
sake  the  prophet  David  said,  "  The  innocent  and 
the  upright  have  adhered  to  me  because  I  have 
waited  on  Thee." 

(3)  A  certain  man  of  the  order  of  mendicants, 
a  Religious  in  garb,  but  a  worker  of  mischief  in 
speech,  began  to  speak  against  the  venerable 
Master  in  many  things,  and  when  he  could  not 
overcome  him,  he  hastened  to  the  Curia  at  Rome 
to  bring  a  suit  against  this  man  of  God,  or  by  some 
other  crafty  device  to  impose  silence  upon  him: 
which  thing  he  would  have  feared  to  do  if  he  had 
been  moved  by  the  Spirit  of  God:  but  the  Just 
Judge,  the  Lover  of  peace,  ordered  things  other- 
wise than  as  this  turbulent  person  had  expected, 
for  being  suddenly  smitten  by  sickness  while 
upon  his  journey,  he  died;  and  his  whole  device 
fell  to  the  ground  and  came  to  naught. 

There  was  another  man  of  the  order  of  preachers 
who  was  eloquent  in  discourse  and  had  the  fame 
and  dignity  of  one  in  great  esteem.  This  man 
having  heard  of  the  bright  reputation  of  the  ven- 
erable Master,  rejoiced  with  exceeding  charity 
thereupon,  and  congratulated  Gerard  with  sin- 
cerity of  mind.  He  sent  him  a  friendly  letter  com- 
posed in  elegant  language,  speaking  highly  of  the 
good  work  which  Gerard  had  begun,  and  urging 
him  not  to  be  broken  down  by  the  assaults  of  fro- 
ward  men,  but  to  trust  in  God  and  stand  firm,  and 
to  refresh  Christian  people  with  yet  more  copious 
draughts  of  the  water  that  floweth  from  Heaven. 
Having  heard  this  and  having  read  the  letter,  the 
Master,  who  was  tried  in  many  things,  embraced 
the  writer,  his  fellow-worker  in  holy  exhortation, 
22 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

with  the  arms  of  charity,  and  was  strengthened 
by  his  letter,  as  by  an  oracle  of  God,  for  the  work 
of  preaching-. 


CHAPTER  X 

<t€  Of  his  journey  to  the  parts  about  Brabant 

(0 

HE  pious  and  humble  Master  Gerard, 
hearing  of  the  great  and  widespread 
fame  of  John  Ruysbroek,  a  monk  and 
Prior  of  the  Monastery  of  Grunthal, 
near  Brussels,  went  to  the  parts  about  Brabant, 
although  the  journey  was  long,  in  order  to  see  in 
bodily  presence  this  holy  and  most  devout  father; 
for  he  longed  to  see  face  to  face,  and  with  his  own 
eyes,  one  whom  he  had  known  hitherto  only  by 
common  report  and  by  his  books;  and  to  hear 
with  his  own  ears  that  voice  utter  its  words  from 
a  living  human  mouth — a  voice  as  gracious  as  if 
it  were  the  very  mouthpiece  of  the  Holy  Ghost, 
He  took  with  him  therefore  that  revered  man  Mas- 
ter John  Cele,  the  director  of  the  School  of  Zwolle, 
a  devout  and  faithful  lover  of  Jesus  Christ;  for 
their  mind  and  heart  were  at  one  in  the  Lord,  and 
the  fellowship  of  each  was  pleasant  to  the  other, 
and  this  resolve  was  kindled  within  them  that  their 
journey,  which  was  undertaken  for  the  sake  of 
spiritual  edification,  should  redound  in  the  case  of 
each  to  the  Glory  of  God. 

(2)  There  went  also  with  them  a  faithful  and 
devout  layman,  named  Gerard  the  shoemaker,  as 
their  guide  upon  the  narrow  way,  and  their  inse- 
parable companion  in  this  happy  undertaking. 

When  they  came  to  the  place  called  Grunthal, 
23 


THE  LIFE  OF 

they  saw  no  lofty  or  elaborate  buildings  therein,  but 
ratherall  the  signs  of  simplicity  of  life  and  poverty, 
such  as  marked  the  first  footsteps  of  our  Heavenly 
King  when  He,  the  Lord,  of  Heaven,  came  upon 
this  earth  as  a  Virgin's  Son,  and  in  exceeding 
poverty.  As  they  entered  the  gate  of  the  monas- 
tery, that  holy  father,  the  devout  Prior,  met  them, 
being  a  man  of  great  age,  of  kindly  serenity,  and 
one  to  be  revered  for  his  honourable  character. 
He  it  was  whom  they  had  come  to  see,  and  saluting 
them  with  the  greatest  benignity  as  they  advanced, 
and  being  taught  by  a  revelation  from  God,  he 
called  upon  Gerard  by  his  very  name  and  knew 
him,  though  he  had  never  seen  him  before.  After 
this  salutation  he  took  them  with  him  into  the 
inner  parts  of  the  cloister,  as  his  most  honoured 
guests,  and  with  a  cheerful  countenance,  and  a 
heart  yet  more  joyful  showed  them  all  due  cour- 
tesy and  kindness  as  if  he  were  entertaining  Jesus 
Christ  Himself. 

(3)  Gerard  abode  there  for  a  few  days  confer- 
ring with  this  man  of  God  about  the  Holy  Scrip- 
tures ;  and  from  him  he  heard  many  heavenly 
secrets  which,  as  he  confessed,  were  past  his  un- 
derstanding, so  that  in  amazement  he  said,  with 
the  Queen  of  Sheba,  "O  excellent  father,  thy  wis- 
dom and  thy  knowledge  exceedeth  the  fame  which 
I  heard  in  mine  own  land;  for  by  thy  virtues  thou 
hast  surpassed  thy  fame."  After  this  he  returned 
with  his  companions  to  his  own  city  greatly  edi- 
fied ;  and  being  as  it  were  a  purified  creature, 
he  pondered  over  what  he  had  heard  in  his  mind, 
and  often  dwelt  thereon  in  his  heart:  also  he 
committed  some  of  Ruysbroek's  sayings  to  writ- 
ing, that  they  might  not  be  forgotten. 

God  also  revealed  to  Gerard  the  death  of  this 
24 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

most  beloved  father,  which  revelation  he  made 
manifest  in  the  hearing  of  many  of  the  citizens  by 
the  tolling  of  the  bells:  and  more  privately,  showed 
to  certain  of  his  friends  that  the  soul  of  the  Prior, 
after  but  one  hour  of  Purgatory  had  passed  to  the 
glory  of  heaven. 

Gerard  himself  did  not  long  survive,  for  when 
the  third  year  after  these  things  was  almost  past, 
there  came  the  time  appointed  for  him  to  die,  and 
at  the  call  of  God  he  paid  the  debt  of  the  flesh. 

This  sojourn  on  his  visit  to  the  Prior  was  not  a 
time  of  idleness,  nor  was  the  discourse  of  so  holy 
a  father  barren;  but  the  instruction  of  his  living 
voice  gave  nurture  to  a  fuller  love,  and  an  increase 
of  fresh  zeal,  as  he  testifies  in  a  letter  which  he 
sent  to  these  same  brethren  in  the  Grunthal,  say- 
ing' "  I  earnestly  desire  to  be  commended  to  your 
director  and  Prior,  the  footstool  of  whose  feet  I 
would  fain  be  both  in  this  life,  and  in  the  life  to 
come;  for  my  heart  is  welded  to  him  beyond  all 
other  men  by  love  and  reverence.  I  do  still  burn 
and  sigh  for  your  presence,  to  be  renewed  and  in- 
spired by  your  spirit  and  to  be  a  partaker  thereof." 


CHAPTER  XI 
iter  Of  his  austerity  in  food  and  clothing 

<») 

WILL  describe  in  a  few  words  the 
manner  of  his  private  life,  for  he  laid 
down  for  himself  a  rule,  and  has  de- 
scribed in  his  writings  many  exercises 
of  devotion. 

He  was  very  temperate  in  the  matter  of  food, 
25 


THE  LIFE  OF 

and  it  was  his  custom  to  be  satisfied  almost  always 
with  but  one  meal  in  the  day.  He  so  regulated 
his  need  of  sleep,  that  he  thought  that  seven  hours 
of  rest  were  enough.  He  would  not  eat,  save  in 
his  own  house,  by  whomsoever  he  might  be  in- 
vited, for  he  avoided  intercourse  with  worldly  men 
and  also  those  lengthy  banquets  in  which  rich 
men  indulge  themselves  to  the  loss  of  the  poor. 
So  strictly  did  he  abide  by  his  rule,  that  none 
dared  to  invite  him  or  to  trouble  him  with  impor- 
tunities: and  this  rule  being  well  known  was  so 
pleasing  to  the  good  as  to  take  away  any  handle 
of  malicious  accusation  from  the  wicked. 

Nevertheless  he  invited  to  his  frugal  table  cer- 
tain poor  servants  of  God,  and  sometimes  one  or 
two  of  the  honourable  burghers,  so  as  to  instruct 
them  in  a  better  life:  and  these  he  regaled  rather 
with  the  sweets  of  heavenly  discourse  than  with 
carefully  prepared  courses  of  meats,  for  such  he 
by  no  means  provided.  But  whether  he  were 
alone,  or  were  entertaining  a  guest,  the  reading 
of  some  holy  book  preceded  the  meal,  and  edify- 
ing discourse  flowed  from  his  honeyed  tongue; 
but  on  other  matters  he  strictly  held  his  peace. 

(2)  Laughter  and  jesting  were  far  removed 
from  his  mouth,  and  still  farther  the  blemishes  of 
slanderous  talk  and  worldly  gossip  which  pertained 
not  to  the  matter  in  hand.  His  conversation  was 
seasoned  with  salt,  and  thoughts  of  devotion  to 
God,  and  the  health  of  the  soul  gave  to  his  food  a 
savour  beyond  that  of  any  pleasant  meat.  He  ever 
remembered  as  he  sat  at  meat  the  heavenly  table 
in  the  kingdom  of  God,  and  the  sweet  fellowship 
of  the  Saints  which  should  follow  our  long  exile 
in  this  present  world.  Thus  he  sent  away  his 
guests  joyful  in  the  Lord,  and  having  their  hearts 
26 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

pricked.  He  had  a  refectory  of  modest  size,  in 
which  a  few  guests  could  sit  with  him,  where  near 
at  hand  and  over  against  the  table  there  stood  a 
case  filled  with  most  excellent  books  to  serve  as 
it  were  for  a  wine-cellar,  so  that  if  the  fare  for  the 
body  were  not  pleasing,  he  might  from  this  abun- 
dant supply  put  before  his  friends  a  draught  of 
wine  for  the  soul.  He  often  ate  food  that  was  un- 
seasoned or  burned,  and  that  not  with  impatience, 
but  with  giving  of  thanks,  and  as  discharging  the 
debt  and  paying  the  penalty  for  his  former  sump- 
tuous living. 

(3)  He  used  to  prepare  his  food  with  his  own 
hands,  though  he  had  no  skill  in  cookery,  and  he 
refused  to  accept  the  services  of  the  sisters  who 
dwelt  apart  in  a  neighbouring  building:  if  any- 
thing needed  to  be  bought  in  the  market,  these 
looked  to  it  for  him;  but  he  allowed  no  one  of 
them  to  enter  into  his  dwelling,  but  was  content 
with  the  ministration  of  a  single  clerk.  Both  within 
his  house  and  abroad  he  arranged  everything  with 
a  view  to  honesty  and  good  report,  and  lest  aught 
that  might  cause  suspicion  should  be  observed, 
he  would  not  speak  to  any  one  of  the  nuns,  save 
behind  a  closed  and  curtained  window.  Things 
that  were  given  him,  or  brought  for  his  use,  were 
pushed  in  by  means  of  a  wheeled  vehicle — where- 
fore one  of  his  pupils,  seeing  him  so  closely 
guarded,  inquired  privately  of  him  concerning  the 
matter,  and  said: 

"Why,  good  master,  dost  thou  so  carefully  veil 
thy  window?  "  and  Gerard  answered,  "  If  I  could, 
I  would  protect  mine  ears  also  that  I  might  not 
hear  the  voices  of  women,  for  indeed  excess  of 
caution  can  do  us  no  hurt;  every  cause  of  stumb- 
ling and  danger  to  the  weak  cometh  by  lack  of 
27 


THE  LIFE  OF 

guard  over  the  bodily  sense,  and  from  too  much 
freedom  of  intercourse.  He,  therefore,  that  would 
preserve  his  integrity,  let  him  keep  his  eyes  and 
his  ears  in  subjection,  for  only  upon  urgent  neces- 
sity should  one  be  so  indiscreet  as  to  speak  with 
a  woman." 

(4)  He  observed  with  the  greatest  strictness 
the  fasts  of  Holy  Church.  On  Fridays  he  ab- 
stained altogether  from  foods  made  with  milk, 
and  often  on  that  day  used  salt  as  a  condiment 
instead  of  oil.  He  seldom  washed  his  plate,  but 
wiped  it  with  bread,  or  left  it  for  a  dog  or  for  mice 
to  lick,  and  he  did  not  despise  mouldy  bread.  On 
the  fifth  day  of  the  week  by  reason  of  the  coming 
Friday  he  washed  all  his  vessels  in  water,  to  re- 
move from  them  every  trace  of  fat  by  way  of 
penance.  Therefore  he  was  pleasing  in  the  sight 
of  God,  by  being  content  with  the  simple  and 
bare  necessaries  of  life,  by  cutting  off  what  is 
superfluous  and  not  requiring  luxuries.  Towards 
himself  he  was  austere  and  churlish,  towards  others 
kindly  and  pitiful. 

(5)  His  garb  was  gray  in  colour  and  made  in 
humble  fashion,  being  neither  soft  nor  gay,  nor 
arranged  in  elaborate  folds,  and  he  seldom  had 
new  garments,  for  when  his  clothes  were  worn 
by  age  he  had  them  patched  and  mended,  nor  was 
he  ashamed,  although  a  man  of  good  birth,  to  be 
seen  amongst  his  friends  and  fellow- citizens  in  vile 
raiment.  He  wore  a  tattered  cloak  mended  with 
many  patches,  like  to  those  worn  by  the  poor  and 
by  beggars:  a  garment  like  to  be  despised  by  the 
rich,  but  a  pattern  to  the  devout,  and  worthy  to 
be  held  in  pious  memory  by  them  that  come 
after.  None  of  his  raiment  indeed  was  of  great 
price,  yet  his  merit  in  wearing  the  same  was  by 

28 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

no  means  small.  All  his  adorning  was  the  inner 
adorning  of  the  heart,  wherefore  he  looked  not  to 
the  aspect  of  his  outer  man:  and  now  he  rejoiced 
to  be  clad  in  garments  which  once  he  would  have 
thought  scarce  worth  a  glance.  Oh!  noble  man, 
who  wast  not  clad  in  soft  raiment,  but  like  John 
wast  girt  with  a  rough  shirt  of  hair,  and,  like 
Christ,  robed  in  the  cloak  of  holy  poverty. 

(6)  He  was  asked  once  by  a  familiar  friend  why 
he  wore  so  old  and  patched  a  garment,  which  any 
labouring  man  might  blush  to  wear,  and  he  re- 
plied in  his  own  gracious  and  pleasant  manner: 
"  In  this  I  look  to  mine  own  convenience ;  the 
patches  are  there  to  prevent  me  from  suffering 
cold,  and  that  the  wind  may  not  blow  through 
the  rents,  as  it  would  if  they  were  not  closed  up." 
The  brother  hearing  this  was  greatly  edified,  per- 
ceiving that  Gerard  sought  not  to  please  the 
world,  but  rather  God  only.  He  was  also  asked 
about  his  cloak  and  doublet,  how  old  they  were,  to 
which  he  replied:  "This  thicker  garment  which 
I  wear  outside,  is  more  than  nine  years  old,  but 
this  thinner  one,  which  I  wear  beneath  it,  I  have 
had  for  two  years  only."  "  And  how  long,"  said 
his  questioner,  "hast  thou  worn  thy  doublet?" 
To  which  Gerard  replied,  "  One  of  them  is  twelve 
years  old,  the  other  only  three."  Thus  he  could 
say  with  holy  David  in  his  faithful  prayers  to  God, 
"  See  my  abjection  and  my  labour,  and  forgive  me 
all  my  sins." 

(7)  The  humble  Master  following  after  poverty, 
remembered  what  manner  of  man  he  had  been  while 
in  the  world  when  he  had  loved  luxury ;  wherefore 
it  behoved  him  injustice  to  make  amends  for  his 
former  courses  by  the  opposite  manner  of  living; 
of  old  he  used  to  go  forth  clad  in  fair  attire  and 

29 


THE  LIFE  OF 

with  a  silvern  girdle :  and  while  among  the  canons, 
he  had  worn  a  sumptuous  surplice  and  a  fair 
almuce:  likewise  he  had  indulged  his  body  with 
delicate  food  and  with  costly  wines;  but  afterward 
being  changed  into  another  man,  he  did  not  suffer 
his  former  indulgences  to  go  unpunished.  He 
prostrated  himself  beneath  the  feet  not  only  of 
his  elders  and  men  in  high  esteem,  but  also  be- 
neath those  of  the  youngest  lay  folk,  sometimes 
eating  in  their  presence  upon  the  bare  earth,  for 
he  said,  "  I  am  not  worthy  to  sit  at  meat  with  you, 
for  I  am  a  sinner  beyond  all  men  and  have  offended 
God."  He  who  had  been  wont  to  anoint  his  head, 
and  delicately  to  tire  his  hair,  would  afterward 
in  his  own  despite  wear  an  old  moth-eaten  biretta 
which  was  pierced  with  near  to  an  hundred  holes. 
Thus  he  did  great  violence  upon  himself,  subdued 
the  flesh,  despised  the  world  and  bruised  the  head 
of  the  old  Serpent,  not  permitting  his  passions  to 
rule  over  him.  He  ever  walked  upon  the  path  of 
humility  under  the  leadership  of  Christ,  and  con- 
formed his  life  by  rule  to  the  pattern  of  the  Saints 
of  old. 


CHAPTER  XII 

<t€  Of  his  devoutness  in  prayer  and  in  hearing 
Holy  things 

(■) 

HO  can  tell  how  devout  and  fervent 

he  showed  himself  inprayer?  Often 

while    reciting    the    "  Hours "    he 

broke  forth  with  the  voice  of  joy 

through  the  superabundance  of  grace  which  was 

shed  upon   him,   and  in   sweet   sounding  hymns 

30 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

poured  forth  his  inward  rejoicing;  and  as  he  sang 
softly  within  his  heart,  his  spirit,  as  a  flame,  was 
borne  upward  to  God.  He  had  more  delight  in 
holy  discourse  and  devout  prayer  than  he  had 
had  of  old  in  worldly  revellings  or  in  the  varied 
strains  of  singing  men.  He  had  one  John  of  Zut- 
phen  to  minister  to  him,  who  was  surnamed 
Brinckerinc,  a  devout  clerk  of  stablished  character 
and  one  dedicated  to  God  from  his  youth:  he  was 
wont  to  recite  the  "  Hours "  with  Gerard,  and 
to  accompany  him  hither  and  thither  when  he 
preached,  and  Gerard  loved  him  with  the  love  of 
a  father  for  his  son,  for  indeed  he  was  a  youth  of 
an  excellent  spirit,  well  beloved  of  God  and  man, 
and  scarcely  could  be  torn  from  his  master's  side. 
(2)  Upon  a  time  when  they  had  made  an  end 
of  reading  the  "Hours,"  Gerard  said  to  him:  "Of 
what  thinkest  thou?  Understandest  thou  what 
thou  readest?  Tell  me  what  is  in  thy  mind."  But 
he  replied  to  his  master:  "How  should  I  under- 
stand except  some  man  should  guide  me."  Then 
said  Gerard  to  his  disciple:  "To  me  there  come 
divers  and  mystic  interpretations,  and  they  lead 
my  mind  secretly  from  one  meaning  to  another 
so  that  I  could  feel  no  weariness  in  reading,  but 
should  rejoice  to  dwell  some  while  longer  upon 
these  good  words."  When  he  was  upon  a  journey 
and  had  been  received  into  a  guest  chamber,  after 
saying  Compline  he  spoke  to  his  two  companions, 
Florentius  and  the  aforesaid  John:  "Let  us  say 
each  one  of  us  our  daily  suffrages  " ;  and  this  too 
was  a  pious  custom  with  them,  that  each  one 
should  tell  the  other  of  his  own  failings  if  he  had 
seen  anything  worthy  of  blame  in  himself:  they 
freely  admonished  one  another  in  turn,  gladly 
submitting  themselves  to  censure,  and  acknow- 
31 


THE  LIFE  OF 

ledging  their  sins  with  humility  asked  pardon 
therefor;  and  being  thus  corrected  in  brotherly 
love,  they  went  to  rest. 

(3)  Once  when  the  people  of  Deventer  were 
going  out  armed  against  their  enemies,  this  man 
of  God  prayed  earnestly  for  the  safety  of  his  fellow 
citizens,  and  it  happened  by  a  dispensation  of  God 
that  as  the  foe  drew  near,  a  thick  cloud  rose  be- 
tween the  armies  by  which  the  opposing  host  was 
terrified  and  took  to  flight,  but  the  men  of  Deventer 
returned  to  their  city  with  speed  and  in  safety — 
for  the  effectual  fervent  prayer  of  a  righteous  man 
availeth  much. 

Every  morning  before  he  began  to  be  about  his 
worldly  business,  or  to  reply  to  those  who  ques- 
tioned him,  he  would  rekindle  his  mind  by  read- 
ing the  Scriptures,  for  he  ever  studied  to  preface 
all  that  he  should  do  with  devout  meditations  and 
prayers  according  to  that  saying  of  the  Psalmist: 
"  My  eyes  to  Thee  have  prevented  the  morning 
that  I  might  meditate  on  thy  words/' 

(4)  It  was  his  rule  to  hear  Mass  daily  with  deep 
reverence  and  due  devotion,  seeking  first  the  King- 
dom of  God  and  His  righteousness,  and  afterward 
devoting  himself  to  the  service  of  his  neighbour, 
thus  in  this  twofold  duty  he  held  to  the  right  path, 
as  it  is  said  in  the  book  of  Canticles:  "  He  set  in 
order  charity  in  me."  When  he  entered  a  Church 
he  did  not  stand  up  to  gaze  upon  the  painted 
windows  in  the  walls  overhead,  but  bent  the  knee 
with  humility  before  God,  and  prostrated  himself 
in  prayer;  and  he  would  hold  no  converse  there, 
but  delighted  only  to  hear  the  praises  of  God,  or 
to  read  the  "  Hours,"  for  he  avoided  every  idle 
word  in  the  Temple  of  the  Almighty.  Lest  his 
devotion  might  be  disturbed  by  the  concourse  of 

32 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

men,  or  his  secret  converse  with  God  be  observed 
of  bystanders,  he  secured  a  secluded  and  private 
place  among  the  Friars-minor,  and  there  alone 
and  in  secret  he  lay  prostrate  in  prayer,  gazing 
upon  and  adoring  the  Holy  Sacrament  of  the 
Altar:  for  there  was  a  small  window  through 
which  the  several  altars  could  be  seen.  Here  with 
prayers  and  groaning  he  knocked  at  the  gate  of 
Heaven,  beating  upon  his  breast  most  grievously, 
like  the  Publican,  beseeching  God  to  be  propitious 
to  him,  and  to  pardon  his  past  sins;  to  cleanse 
him  from  evil  and  the  passions  which  threatened 
him;  and  to  protect  him  from  further  perils  by 
the  bestowal  of  His  Fatherly  care,  as  in  times 
past. 

(5)  He  was  so  eminent  for  devotion  and  medita- 
tion as  to  earn  the  comfort  of  a  revelation  from 
God,  and  the  instruction  of  a  spirit  of  prophecy 
as  to  future  events.  Thus  he  consoled  one  of  his 
pupils,  who  was  sad  by  reason  of  the  long  con- 
tinued absence  of  a  brother,  with  the  tidings  that 
he  should  soon  come  to  him,  "  for  thy  brother  is 
well,"  said  Gerard,  "  and  will  come  shortly  "  ;  and 
so  it  came  to  pass.  He  also  foretold  of  certain 
brothers  who  clung  to  him,  that  some  of  them 
should  be  promoted  to  the  priesthood  and  some 
should  take  upon  them  the  profession  of  the  Re- 
ligious Life.  Once,  being  inflamedby  a  mighty  long- 
ing for  Eternal  Life,  he  said  to  one  of  his  pupils: 
"What  further  can  I  do  here?  would  that  I  were 
with  my  Lord  in  Heaven  " ;  and  the  brother  an- 
swered him,  saying:  "  Beloved  Master,  we  cannot 
yet  do  without  thy  presence ;  who  would  instruct 
us  as  thou  dost,  and  strive  so  earnestly  on  our 
behalf?  We  are  few  and  feeble,  and  these  world- 
lings perchance  might  soon  put  us  to  rout";  but 
33  d 


THE  LIFE  OF 

Gerard  again  confidently  affirmed:  "I  will  ask 
the  Father  for  you,  that  your  devotion  fail  not, 
for  it  is  a  tree  that  the  Lord  hath  planted  upon 
this  earth;  I  hope  that  this  small  beginning  shall 
come  to  a  great  issue.  God  of  His  goodness  shall 
provide  for  Himself  another  fitting  man  instead 
of  me,  who  without  doubt  shall  take  his  place  as 
a  buttress  to  the  House  of  the  Lord. 


CHAPTER  XIII 
*€  Of  his  great  love  of  reading  the  Holy  Scriptures 

(0 

HIS  reverend  doctor  was  possessed  by 
a  great  love  of  reading  the  Holy  Scrip- 
tures, and  by  an  untiring  zeal  in  col- 
lecting the  books  of  learned  men  rather 
than  treasures  of  money,  whereof  he  bears  witness 
in  a  letter,  saying:  "  I  am  ever  covetous,  yea,  more 
than  covetous,  of  books,  and  if  I  lack  them  I  am 
useless";  for  although  he  was  more  learned  than 
many  doctors,  he  did  not  desire  honour  on  that 
account,  but  he  was  the  comforter  of  them  that 
sorrowed,  and  ever  the  faithful  helper  of  all  who 
wished  to  serve  God.  He  was  instant  in  search- 
ing again  and  again  the  passages  that  he  had 
read,  and  to  dark  sayings  he  gave  yet  more  care- 
ful study  so  as  to  become  continually  better  and 
more  apt  to  take  hold  upon  holy  things.  He  was 
not  ashamed  to  learn  from  younger  men,  nor  to 
ask  them  questions,  for  he  knew  that  which  is 
written:  "The  declaration  of  Thy  words  giveth 
light,  and  giveth  understanding  to  little  ones"; 
wherefore  he  showed  himself  right  easy  of  access 
34 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

and  kindly  to  such  men,  and  indeed  chose  rather 
to  seek  counsel  from  another,  than  to  work  out 
by  himself  many  interpretations;  for  he  said:  "If 
a  boy  can  teach  me  a  fuller  knowledge  of  the  will 
of  God,  how  much  more  gladly  would  I  listen  to 
him,  rather  than  strive  after  some  new  doctrine 
by  myself  and  without  counsel  from  any  man." 

(2)  He  was  therefore  earnest  in  reading  the 
Scriptures,  but  was  not  careful  to  possess  books 
beautifully  adorned;  the  Breviary  from  which  he 
read  his  "  Hours"  was  of  no  great  value  since  he 
avoided  using  anything  that  was  outwardly  splen- 
did or  that  savoured  not  of  simplicity:  so  when 
he  saw  one  who  had  a  book  sumptuously  orna- 
mented, and  noted  how  carefully  the  owner  looked 
to  it  and  turned  the  leaves,  he  said  to  him:  "I 
had  rather  that  a  book  were  my  servant,  than  be 
servant  to  a  book;  books  should  serve  the  inte- 
rests of  their  reader's  mind,  not  the  nice  taste  of 
him  who  doth  look  at  them  ";  for  this  reason  the 
devout  master  gave  more  attention  to  the  matter 
of  a  book  than  to  the  outward  beauty  of  an  em- 
bellished copy;  so,  too,  the  Blessed  Jerome  pre- 
ferred to  have  a  well  corrected  text,  though  the 
form  of  the  book  might  be  of  small  value,  rather 
than  a  beautifully  ornamented  but  incorrect  copy. 
Yet  it  is  a  decent  custom  and  to  be  commended 
as  tending  to  the  honour  of  God,  and  to  the  adorn- 
ment of  His  Church  which  flourisheth  over  all  the 
world,  that  the  books  of  Holy  Scripture,  and  those 
that  are  used  in  Divine  Service  should  be  some- 
what sumptuously  written,  and  be  preserved  from 
all  taint  of  dust  and  defilement.  So  may  they 
minister  to  many  that  are  faithful  in  the  peace  of 
the  Catholic  Faith  both  of  this  and  coming  gener- 
ations; and  may  stir  the  dull  of  heart  to  read 
35 


THE  LIFE  OF 

more  earnestly;  and  the  books  shall  abide  long 
with  us  because  they  are  known  to  have  been 
bought  at  a  great  price,  and  to  have  been  written 
with  great  labour. 

(3)  He  was  not  only  assiduous  in  reading  the 
sacred  books,  but  also  wrote  carefully,  and  pub- 
lished at  the  earnest  desire  of  others,  certain  short 
works  based  upon  the  genuine  sayings  of  the 
Saints  for  the  use  of  them  who  sought  his  guid- 
ance, that  he  might  teach  those  whom  he  could 
not  reach  in  person  and  instruct  by  word  of  mouth. 
Amongst  other  works  he  wrote  several  notable 
letters,  a  collection  of  which  is  preserved  and  read 
for  a  worthy  memorial  of  him.  He  had  knowledge 
of  all  the  liberal  arts  conjoined  to  a  close  acquaint- 
ance with  Holy  Scripture ;  a  natural  genius  which 
was  very  keen  and  adorned  by  the  light  of  the 
grace  of  God:  a  skilful  tongue,  fluent  eloquence 
in  exhortation,  and  a  tenacious  memory;  so  that 
there  was  scarcely  known  his  equal  in  so  many 
branches  of  knowledge  or  one  so  earnest  and  de- 
vout in  holy  conversation.  Yet  illustrious  as  he 
was  for  his  special  knowledge  in  matters  of  learn- 
ing both  human  and  divine,  he  was  none  the  less 
humble  and  submissive  in  rendering  honour  to 
his  superiors  and  to  rulers  of  the  Church.  He 
was  well  disposed  to  study  the  simple  and  devout 
words  of  others:  in  speech  he  was  circumspect; 
in  writing,  ready;  in  self-examination,  scrupulous ; 
in  business  committed  to  him,  prompt  and  faithful. 
Lest  he  should  forget  what  he  ought  to  do  or  say 
when  occasion  came,  he  used  to  write  at  once 
upon  the  blank  leaves  or  margins  of  his  books 
and  pamphlets  clear  notes  upon  the  business  in 
hand.  Thus  he  kept  carefully  in  readiness  full 
records  of  all  that  he  said  for  the  overthrowing 
36 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

of  the  envious  who  were  ever  laying  snares  for 
him  in  many  ways;  and  this  he  did  that  he  might 
have  at  hand  matter  wherewith  to  answer  the 
snarls  of  his  detractors,  should  any  necessity 
arise. 

(4)  A  certain  prelate  of  the  Church,  an  enemy 
to  Gerard,  disputed  with  him,  and  argued  against 
some  of  his  writings  as  if  the  master  were  less 
wise  than  he:  for  he  himself  did  not  perceive  by 
what  a  plague  of  jealousy  he  was  troubled.  Then 
the  man  of  God,  knowing  his  own  innocence,  brought 
forward  a  great  number  of  his  letters,  asserting 
that  those  things  which  were  objected  against 
him  were  not  written  by  him,  nor  did  they  agree 
with  what  he  had  written.  "  Consider,  Sirs,"  said 
he,  "  what  sort  of  letters  ye  have  received  or  sent: 
lo !  here  is  the  full  number  and  collection  of  letters 
which  I  have  written  with  mine  own  hand — as 
these  speak,  so  speak  I — these  I  maintain  and 
for  these  I  answer  " ;  and  by  the  ready  production 
of  these  letters  the  mouth  of  him  that  spoke  evil 
of  Gerard  was  stopped;  and  the  famous  master 
by  his  assertion  of  the  Truth,  was  promoted  to 
even  greater  honour  in  the  minds  of  many  who 
stood  by.  For  the  truth  shall  always  prevail, 
though  it  is  often  spoken  against  by  the  ignorant. 

(5)  It  is  said  that  Gerard  had  been  skilled  in 
astrology  and  necromancy,  and  before  his  con- 
version had  been  in  the  habit  of  displaying  some 
few  of  the  tricks  of  the  art  of  magic :  but  I  have 
learned  from  two  of  his  pupils  that  more  than 
these  cannot  be  charged  to  him,  for  when  one  of 
these  pupils  asked  him  the  truth  of  the  matter, 
he  said:  "I  did  indeed  learn  the  theory  of  that 
art,  and  I  read  and  possessed  books  upon  it,  but 
I  had  no  dealings  with  the  follies  of  magical  prac- 

37 


THE  LIFE  OF 

tice."  Moreover  a  faithful  pupil  of  Gerard,  who 
was  also  a  devout  priest,  added  for  my  further  in- 
formation on  this  questionable  matter  the  follow- 
ing- explanation.  "  There  are,"  he  said,  "  two  kinds 
of  necromancy,  of  which  one  is  called 'natural.' 
This  kind  is  a  most  recondite  study,  and  its  dif- 
ference from  the  second  kind  (which  is  called 
'  diabolic  '  and  is  forbidden  by  law),  is  perceived 
by  but  few  persons.  Gerard  was  learned  in  the 
natural  kind,  but  I  believe  that  he  had  not  studied 
the  other,  nor  had  made  any  compact  with  the 
Devil."  But  in  what  way  soever  his  connection 
with  this  science  came  about,  and  whether  he  had 
dealings  or  commerce  therewith  in  jest  or  in 
earnest,  he  washed  away  and  purged  any  foolish- 
ness or  defilement  that  might  have  clung  to  him 
therefrom,  by  bringing  forth  fruits  meet  for  re- 
pentance when  he  was  wholly  turned  to  God.  In 
witness  of  this  when  smitten  with  sickness  he  re- 
nounced all  unlawful  arts  in  the  presence  of  a 
priest,  and  gave  the  books  that  dealt  of  such 
vanities  to  be  burned  in  the  fire. 

(6)  Let  us  recognize  in  all  these  things  the  im- 
measureable  depth  of  the  Fatherly  love  of  God; 
and  see  how  the  Almighty  doth  suffer  some  men 
to  be  ensnared  by  the  more  grievous  sins  and  by 
wrongful  habits,  but  at  length  of  His  secret  pur- 
poses, making  manifest  a  yet  greater  compassion 
for  them,  doth  restore  to  life  those  that  were  lost, 
and  raiseth  the  fallen  to  repentance.  He  doth  grant 
them  not  only  pardon  for  past  sins,  but  also  a  store 
of  higher  grace  when  they  are  wholly  turned  to 
Him,  and  are  striving  to  be  profitable  servants. 
He  knoweth  how  to  convert  the  provocations  de- 
vised by  the  Devil  for  the  confusion  and  ruin  of 
man,  into  means  of  earning  a  crown  of  greater 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

glory.  If  there  is  joy  in  the  presence  of  the  angels 
over  one  sinner  that  repenteth,  how  great  a  joy 
must  there  have  been  over  Gerard,  who  not  only 
repented  of  his  own  sins,  but  also  by  his  example 
and  precept  turned  so  many  other  sinners  to  re- 
pentance, and  laboured  to  draw  a  great  company 
of  faithful  people  to  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven. 


CHAPTER  XIV 

*€  Of  the  abundant  fruit  which  he  bore  in  the  con- 
version of  men 

(■) 

NASMUCH  as  every  tree  is  known  by 
his  fruit,  as  Christ  Himself  beareth 
witness,  I  must  now  declare  how  rich 
and  how  abundant  were  the  fruits  of 
godliness  which  this  tree  bore  during  the  short 
season  of  his  preaching.  I  think  that  venerable 
and  learned  Master  is  worthy  to  be  compared  to 
three  trees  above  all  others;  to  the  fertile  olive,  to 
the  lofty  cedar,  and  to  the  flourishing  palm.  For 
he,  being  planted  like  a  fruitful  tree  by  the  water 
side,  brought  forth  in  his  season  most  excellent 
increase  to  God.  Moreover,  as  a  stream  running 
over  with  the  waters  of  the  Scriptures,  he  irrigated 
the  vineyard  of  the  Lord  God  of  Sabaoth  abun- 
dantly, whence  the  clusters  of  devout  life,  and  the 
green  leaves  of  good  works  were  increased  to  the 
Glory  of  God  our  Saviour.  This  man  of  God  was 
no  barren  stock,  nor  a  forest  tree  whose  leaf  fall- 
eth,  like  the  oak;  but  in  very  truth  he  flourished 
abundantly,  like  some  fair  olive  in  the  field,  as  a 
noble  cedar  aloft  in  Libanus,  and  as  a  goodly  palm 
39 


THE  LIFE  OF 

upon  the  hill  of  Zion.  The  merciful  God  bestowed 
great  grace  upon  him,  which  he  received  not  with 
an  empty  heart,  but  used  the  same  to  the  bringing 
forth  of  good  works;  he,  therefore,  who  had  been 
aforetime  an  occasion  of  error  to  many  and  a  com- 
panion of  the  foolish,  now  became  an  ensample  of 
virtue  to  all.  The  more  he  perceived  how  griev- 
ously he  had  erred  in  the  paths  of  evil,  so  much 
the  more  humble  did  he  now  become,  and  the 
more  zealous  to  tread  in  the  right  way.  Wherefore 
being  renewed  and  set  on  fire  by  the  Spirit  of  God 
he  was  instant  to  be  more  diligent  in  works  of 
mercy,  in  succouring  his  neighbours  (being  moved 
thereto  by  deep  compassion);  in  preaching  the 
Word  of  Salvation  to  the  peoples;  in  administer- 
ing, like  a  holy  physician  of  souls,  the  comfort  of 
Divine  consolation  to  the  sorrowful  and  the  tempted : 
and  in  recalling  back-sliders  to  their  former  earnest- 
ness of  mind  by  frequent  exhortation,  prayer  and 
lamentation. 

(2)  Because  he  had  obtained  great  mercy  from 
the  Lord,  and  with  true  charity  was  eager  to  share 
the  same  liberally,  and  whensoever  he  could,  with 
his  neighbour,  he  might  justly  say  with  the  holy 
poet  David:  "But  I  have  borne  fruit  like  an  olive 
tree  in  the  house  of  the  Lord:  I  have  hoped  in  the 
Mercy  of  God  for  ever."  He  was  not  hard  of  heart 
and  pitiless  like  that  wicked  servant  who,  though 
all  his  own  debt  was  forgiven  him,  had  not  com- 
passion upon  his  fellow  servant:  but  from  the  be- 
ginning of  his  conversion,  he  forgave  every  debt 
of  those  that  trespassed  against  him ;  prayed 
earnestly  for  those  that  slandered  him;  was  ready 
to  be  beforehand  in  giving  satisfaction  if  he  had 
offended  any,  and  to  live  peaceably  with  all  so 
that  the  defence  of  the  Truth  were  not  endangered. 
40 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

Nor  did  he,  like  that  slothful  servant,  hide  his 
Lord's  money,  looking  only  to  his  own  conveni- 
ence; but  the  gift  of  learning,  and  that  talent 
which  was  entrusted  to  him  he  faithfully  put  out 
to  earn  an  usury  of  souls.  Rightly  then  is  he  com- 
pared to  a  fruitful  olive,  for  he  poured  forth  upon 
his  neighbour  in  holy  abundance  the  oil  of  mercy 
which  he  had  received  from  God.  But  he  put  on 
bowels  of  mercy  chiefly  toward  indigent  clerks, 
lone  widows,  and  virgins  who  preserved  their 
chastity,  and  upon  these  he  expended  the  anxious 
care  of  a  father ;  also  he  studied  to  minister  to  the 
necessities  of  them  that  lacked  both  by  his  own 
efforts  and  through  others,  giving  them  whatso- 
ever help  and  consolation  he  could. 

(3)  With  reason,  too,  is  he  compared  to  a  lofty 
cedar  that  groweth  upward,  because  by  his  con- 
tempt of  all  earthly  things  and  his  contemplation 
of  the  Eternal,  he  grew  toward  Heaven:  and  know- 
ing his  own  frailty,  he  rooted  his  heart  in  the 
depths  of  humility,  and  in  proportion  as  his  roots 
became  finer  and  more  deeply  planted,  so  did  he 
spread  the  more  widely  above.  Although  he  was 
endowed  with  so  much  knowledge,  and  was  in  so 
great  reputation  with  the  famous  doctors  of  his 
time,  he  nevertheless  despised  every  pinnacle  of 
worldly  honour,  and  kept  himself  simple  in  bear- 
ing, so  that  anyone  who  did  not  know  him  would 
scarcely  have  given  heed  to,  or  saluted  him. 

Well,  too,  is  the  Master  likened  to  a  flourishing 
palm  tree,  for  with  the  leaves  of  this  were  victors 
and  fighters  of  old  wont  to  be  crowned;  and,  like 
them,  Gerard  strove  against  and  overcame  his 
enemies,  that  is,  men  guilty  of  heresies,  simony, 
usury,  self-seeking,  lust,  and  the  other  various 
monsters  of  wickedness,  enduring  many  labours 
41 


THE  LIFE  OF 

and  using  the  writings  of  the  Scriptures  as  the 
weapons  wherewith  he  was  armed.  Therefore  was 
he  worthy  to  be  crowned  with  the  palm  of  ever- 
lasting bliss,  and  to  be  commended  of  faithful 
people  with  due  reverence  and  praise.  Behold  him! 
an  Israelite  indeed,  a  most  devoted  preacher  and 
champion  of  sound  doctrine:  one  who  so  loved 
God  as  not  to  neglect  his  neighbour :  who  so  lifted 
his  mind  to  the  things  of  Heaven  as  not  to  be  back- 
ward in  ministering  to  the  necessities  of  others, 
who  moreover  busied  himself  in  looking  not  to  his 
own  salvation  only  but  to  the  weal  of  many,  and 
in  leading  them  with  him  to  the  more  perfect  life. 
(4)  He  was  of  a  cheerful  countenance,  and  in 
speech  kindly;  calm  in  mind  and  humble  in  cloth- 
ing; in  food  abstinent,  in  counsel  wise,  in  judge- 
ment discreet.  Towards  evil  he  was  stern,  toward 
virtue  zealous.  Fleeing  from  idleness  he  ever  exer- 
cised himself  with  something  profitable  to  edifica- 
tion: he  loved  simplicity  and  followed  lowliness, 
thinking  upon  heavenly  things.  He  was  apt  to 
understand  hidden  matters,  and  was  never  too 
much  occupied  for  reading  and  prayer.  Having 
God  ever  before  his  eyes  he  jealously  guarded  the 
rights  of  the  Church.  He  set  a  good  example  to 
men  of  the  world,  seeking  no  temporal  advantage 
from  his  preaching,  thinking  only  of  the  profit  of 
souls,  and  preaching  the  Gospel  without  price  and 
without  money  from  the  Church.  Thus  though  his 
life  was  not  long,  nor  crowned  with  age,  yet  in  his 
short  season  he  brought  forth  abundant  fruit  by 
his  preaching,  and  left  behind  him  in  divers  places 
most  devout  disciples  and  brothers  whom  he  had 
first  faithfully  built  up  and  set  on  fire  by  the  grace 
of  that  new  light  wherewith  he  himself  was  filled. 


42 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 


CHAPTER  XV 

m€  Of  the  devout   communities  and    monasteries 
which  arose  through  him 

(0 
HE  everlasting  wisdom  of  the  Father, 
and  His  mercy  from  on  High  provided 
that  there  should  be  sent  so  great  and 
good  a  man  as  Gerard  as  an  ambass- 
ador from  Heaven  to  a  world  which  was  now  grow- 
ing old  and  ever  turning  to  yet  more  evil  courses: 
one  who  had  put  on  the  breastplate  of  faith  and 
was  sustained  by  righteousness  of  life,  so  that, 
through  him,  Holy  Religion  might  be  made  to 
flourish  again,  and  the  devotion  of  Christian 
people,  being  oft  instructed  by  his  discourses, 
might  again  grow  warm,  continue  in  the  worship 
of  God  and  the  observance  of  His  commandments, 
and  show  works  of  mercy  toward  the  poor.  To 
resist  the  malice  of  so  many  enemies,  and  to  call 
souls  that  were  perishing  out  of  the  deep  darkness 
of  sin  into  the  light  of  Truth  should  seem  to  be  a 
work  for  no  unskilled  man;  but  Gerard  was  deeply 
learned,  one,  moreover,  who  had  made  trial  of 
many  things,  and  to  him  the  Grace  of  God  gave 
the  power  of  the  word:  for  he  was  most  fully  in- 
structed in  heavenly  doctrine  and  excelled  other 
men  in  the  virtue  of  his  life:  thus  he  was  able  to 
persuade  his  hearers  to  despise  the  world  not  only 
by  words  of  human  wisdom  but  even  more  by  the 
example  of  his  godly  conversation. 

Such  was  the  inclination  amongst  the  people  to 
hear  the  Word  of  God,  that  the  Church  could 
scarcely  contain  the  crowd  that  came  together. 
43 


THE  LIFE  OF 

Many  left  their  food, and  being  drawn  by  an  hunger 
after  righteousness  postponed  their  urgent  busi- 
ness and  ran  together  to  hear  his  discourses:  he 
often  delivered  two  sermons  in  one  day,  and  some- 
times continued  preaching  for  three  hours  or  more 
when  fervency  of  spirit  took  hold  upon  him.  He 
preached  in  the  chief  cities  of  the  diocese  of 
Utrecht,  Deventer  and  Zwolle;  in  Kempen  often, 
and  in  Utrecht  itself  before  the  assembled  clergy; 
in  the  country  of  Holland  at  Leyden,  Delft  and 
Ghent;  in  Amsterdam  (where  he  delivered  his  first 
sermon  in  the  vulgar  tongue)  and  in  various  other 
towns  and  well-known  villages  where  he  hoped  to 
gather  fruit  and  to  bring  forth  new  children  for 
God.  Blessed  be  God,  Who  sending  His  Holy 
Spirit  from  Above  kindled  the  hearts  of  His  faith- 
ful people,  and  mightily  increased  them,  so  that 
from  the  seed  of  a  few  converts  there  grew  many 
companies  of  devout  brethren  and  sisters  who 
served  God  in  chastity;  and  to  them  several  mon- 
asteries of  monks  and  holy  nuns  owed  the  origin 
of  their  Godly  life. 

(2)  It  is  the  great  glory  of  Master  Gerard  that  by 
his  preaching  so  great  a  tree  was  planted  and 
watered,  a  tree  which  after  his  death,  though  but 
newly  set  in  the  ground,  ceased  not  to  flourish  in 
the  field  of  the  Lord.  Although  this  religious  order 
and  these  communities  of  devout  persons  were  first 
planted  in  the  nearer  parts  of  Holland,  Gelders 
and  Brabant,  they  afterwards  spread  rapidly  to 
the  more  remote  regions  of  Flanders,  Frisia, 
Westphalia  and  Saxony,  for  God  prospered  them, 
and  the  sweet  savour  of  their  good  reputation 
reached  even  to  the  Apostolic  See. 

Now  the  venerable  Master  Gerard,  being  filled 
with  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  perceiving  that  by  little 
44 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

and  little  the  number  of  his  disciples  was  increas- 
ing, and  that  they  were  burning  with  zeal  for 
heavenly  warfare,  took  due  care  and  forethought 
that  the  devout  might  come  together  from  time 
to  time  into  one  house  for  mutual  exhortation, 
and  that  they  might  deal  faithfully  with  one  an- 
other of  the  things  pertaining  to  God  and  to  the 
keeping  of  the  law  of  Charity:  and  he  ordained 
that  if  any  should  wish  to  abide  continually  to- 
gether, they  should  earn  their  own  living  by  the 
labour  of  their  hands,  and,  as  far  as  might  be, 
live  in  common  under  the  discipline  of  the  Church. 
He  allowed  none  to  beg  in  the  public  ways  unless 
compelled  by  evident  necessity,  nor  toilsomely  to 
go  round  from  house  to  house  to  obtain  alms,  but 
rather  he  ordered  them  to  remain  at  home,  and, 
as  St.  Paul  taught,  to  be  diligent  in  the  labour  of 
their  hands,  but  not  to  engage  in  any  business 
which  might  hinder  their  devotion  in  the  hope  of 
greater  gain,  lest  at  the  instigation  of  the  Devil 
there  might  be  given  to  the  weak  some  occasion 
of  falling  back  into  their  former  naughty  ways. 

(3)  He  had  it  in  mind  to  build  a  Monastery  for 
Clerks  of  the  order  of  Regular  Canons,  for  he 
wished  to  move  some  of  those  Clerks  who  fol- 
lowed him  and  were  fitted  for  such  a  life,  to  take 
the  Religious  habit  in  order  that  they  might  serve 
as  an  example  to  other  devout  persons,  and  show 
the  way  of  holiness  to  any  clerks  or  lay  folk  that 
came  from  elsewhere. 

He  was  moved  to  institute  this  religious  order 
chiefly  by  the  especial  love  and  reverence  he  had 
for  that  venerable  John  Ruysbroek,  the  first  prior 
of  Griinthal,  and  for  the  other  brethren  in  the 
same  place,  who  lived  the  Religious  life  and  were 
without  reproach.  These  were  they  whom  he  had 
45 


THE  LIFE  OF 

visited  in  person  in  Brabant;  in  them  he  observed 
and  from  them  derived,  a  mode  of  life  greatly 
tending  to  edification  by  reason  of  their  deep 
humility  and  the  wearing  of  a  simple  garb. 

But  although  he  busied  himself  with  all  dilig- 
ence to  find  a  place  and  a  monastery  fitted  for 
the  Religious  Life,  he  could  not  accomplish  the 
end  which  he  desired,  for  death  was  beforehand 
with  him;  yet  in  the  sight  of  God  the  King  im- 
mortal, invisible,  the  Founder  of  all  things,  the 
intention  was  counted  as  if  it  were  the  fulfilment 
of  his  design,  and  he  bequeathed  his  desire  to 
build  a  religious  house  to  those  most  beloved  dis- 
ciples whom  he  had  converted,  exhorting  them 
not  to  let  so  great  a  purpose  fall  into  forgetfulness 
when  he  was  dead,  but  to  unite  in  lending  their 
aid  and  counsel  in  carrying  it  out  so  as  to  further 
the  Glory  of  God.  Some  of  these  disciples  were 
they  who  dwelt  in  the  Monastery  of  Windesheim, 
and  also  they  who  with  the  help  of  God  first 
founded  the  house  of  Agnietenburg  near  Zwolle. 


CHAPTER  XVI 

•£  Of  his  happy  death  and  burial 

<•> 

HIS  faithful  and  prudent  servant  of  the 
Lord  perceiving  that  the  end  of  his 
days  was  at  hand — for  he  was  smitten 
by  the  bolt  that  must  fall  upon  all  men 
— asked  for  and  received  the  Viaticum  of  Salva- 
tion. He  bore  with  patience  the  stroke  from  the 
Hand  of  the  Lord,  and  like  the  elect,  strove  not 
to  avoid  His  scourge,  knowing  that  the  more 
46 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

humbly  and  gladly  he  bore  this  present  chastise- 
ment, the  more  readily  should  he  appease  the 
wrath  of  the  Judge  Almighty.  Resigning  himself 
therefore  wholly  to  the  Divine  Will,  and  readily 
submitting  himself  to  the  ordinance  from  above, 
he  committed  the  issue  of  his  strife  to  God  in 
faith  and  spoke  these  few  words  to  the  brethren 
who  stood  about  him: 

"  Lo !  I  am  called  of  the  Lord,  and  the  time  of 
my  dissolution  is  at  hand.  Augustine  and  Bernard 
are  knocking  at  the  door;  and  I  may  not  go  be- 
yond the  bounds  which  God  hath  set  to  my  life. 
I  must  pay  the  debt  of  the  flesh  like  other  mor- 
tals; may  God  protect  my  going  forth,  and  may 
my  spirit  return  to  Him  Who  gave  it;  let  the  earth 
cover  this  poor  body  which  was  taken  from  it,  but 
might  not  long  abide  thereon;  and  may  He  for 
Whose  love  I  have  laboured,  written,  and  preached, 
grant  that  I  find  peace  after  death." 

(2)  But  his  disciples  were  grieved  to  the  heart, 
and  said  to  him  with  bitter  sighing:  "  What  shall 
we  do  from  henceforth,  and  who  shall  teach  us  in 
time  to  come?  Thou  hast  been  our  father  and  our 
defender,  and  hast  drawn  us  to  God.  Now  shall 
our  adversaries  rejoice,  and  they  of  the  world  shall 
laugh  us  to  scorn,  saying:  '*  These  have  no  leader 
nor  chief,  therefore  shall  they  soon  be  brought  to 
naught."  If  when  thou  wert  here  thejy  dared  to 
mock  us  and  speak  evil  of  us,  what  shall  they  do 
when  thou  art  gone?  Let  prayers  for  us  fall  from 
thy  lips,  and  bring  aid  speedily  to  the  sons  whom 
thou  dost  leave  behind.  Through  thy  counsel  have 
we  begun  to  amend;  help  us  that  we  may  per- 
severe." 

The  good  and  pitiful  Master,  seeing  that  the 
hearts  of  his  sons  were  in  heavy  sorrow  for  his 
47 


THE  LIFE  OF 

departure,  gave  them  kindly  comfort,  saying: 
"  Have  faith  in  God,  my  most  beloved,  nor  fear 
them  of  the  world  that  prate  against  you.  Stand 
firm  in  your  holy  purpose,  for  God  shall  be  with 
you  where  ye  are;  man  shall  not  prevail  to  break 
down  that  which  God  hath  determined  shall  be 
builded.  So  soon  as  I  am  come  to  God,  I  hope  I 
shall  cast  down  upon  you  flowers  out  of  Heaven, 
that  ye  may  know  the  Grace  of  God  and  produce 
fruit  in  the  world;  and  to  Him  and  to  His  saints 
do  I  commend  you  all." 

(3)  "  Behold  Florentius,  my  beloved  disciple,  in 
whom  the  Holy  Spirit  hath  found  a  resting  place, 
shall  be  to  you  a  father  and  ruler.  Take  him  in 
my  stead,  hear  him,  and  obey  his  counsel.  I  know 
none  like  him,  none  whom  1  esteem  so  highly,  or 
in  whom  I  have  such  confidence.  Him  must  ye 
love  and  reverence  as  a  father." 

Thus  with  kindly  words  did  he  comfort  his  dis- 
ciples in  their  bitter  grief,  promising  that  the  help 
of  God  should  be  most  surely  with  them.  As  a 
bequest  he  left  them  neither  gold  nor  silver  nor 
rich  estates,  but  only  his  holy  books,  his  few  poor 
garments,  and  some  worthless  and  ancient  vessels 
in  token  of  his  contempt  of  the  world,  and  to  help 
them  the  more  easily  to  strive  after  the  Kingdom 
of  God. 

At  this  time  there  came  also  to  him  certain 
devout  scholars  who  had  been  smitten  with  the 
sickness  of  the  Plague,  desiring  to  hear  from  him 
some  wholesome  word  as  a  medicine  for  their 
souls.  To  these  he  spoke  with  clemency,  saying: 
"  By  continuing  ever  in  the  Service  of  God,  if  ye 
are  well  disposed  thereunto,  ye  can  meet  death 
with  confidence;  all  those  lectures  which  ye  have 
heard  shall  be  counted  to  you  as  prayers  to  God, 
48 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

by  reason  of  the  pious  intention  which  ye  have 
had  toward  Him  in  your  studies." 

Hearing  this  the  young  men  were  comforted, 
and  returning  to  their  own  hospice,  departed  this 
life  having  made  a  good  confession,  commending 
their  souls,  which  were  redeemed  by  the  Blood  of 
Christ,  to  God  and  to  the  Holy  Angels. 

(4)  After  the  Festival  of  the  Assumption  of  the 
Blessed  Mary,  ever  Virgin,  when  the  Feastday  of 
St.  Bernard  (to  whom  Gerard  was  especially  de- 
voted) had  dawned,  this  reverend  father,  then  in 
the  forty-fourth  year  of  his  age,  delivered  up  to 
God  his  soul  fortified  by  the  Sacraments  of  the 
Church,  made  precious  by  faith,  and  ennobled  by 
many  virtues.  He  died  as  the  sun  was  sinking, 
between  the  fifth  and  sixth  hours  in  the  thirteen 
hundred  and  eighty-fourth  year  after  our  Lord's 
Incarnation,  during  the  reign  of  Pope  Urban  the 
Sixth,  and  while  that  most  revered  lord  Florentius 
de  Wevelichoven  was  Bishop  of  Utrecht,  a  notable 
man  and  adorned  by  many  excellent  deeds. 

(5)  When  the  sad  report  of  his  death  went 
forth  to  the  people,  many  faithful  persons  came 
together  to  attend  the  burying  of  a  man  so  worthy 
of  love,  and  so  devoted  to  God:  and  the  monks 
and  nuns  shed  pious  tears  performing  the  due 
rites  for  the  departed,  with  prayer  and  the  cele- 
bration of  Masses  according  to  custom.  Every 
rite  of  the  Church  being  duly  performed,  his 
body  was  carried  to  the  Church  of  the  Blessed 
Mary,  and  was  reverently  buried  therein,  where, 
as  all  men  know,  his  living  voice  had  often 
preached  the  Word  of  God.  There  he  rests  in 
peace,  not  far  from  the  Sanctuary,  to  rise  with 
the  rest  of  the  faithful  on  the  last  day,  through 
the  merits  of  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord  who  shall 

49  e 


THE  LIFE  OF 

judge  both  the  quick  and  the  dead,  and  this  world 
with  fire. 

These  words  concerning  a  few  out  of  the  many 
glorious  acts  of  the  reverend  Master  Gerard  have 
been  written  for  the  edification  of  the  brethren 
who  now  are,  or  in  time  to  come  shall  be,  of  our 
community:  may  they  tend  to  the  Glory  of  our 
Lord  Jesus  Christ. 

I  ask  pardon  for  any  error  or  defect  in  my  dis- 
course, for  I  know  mine  own  unskilfulness  and 
submit  myself  humbly  to  the  correction  of  the 
brethren,  attributing  to  the  Grace  of  God  any 
good  thing  that  may  be  found  herein  written. 

(6)  (A  novice  speaks) 

"  Most  gladly  do  I  hear  these  things,  and  feel 
that  as  it  were  a  new  spirit  of  devotion  is  born  in 
me  thereby.  Oh!  that  many  Masters  like  to  him 
could  now  be  found,  who  should  be  constrained 
to  inform  the  Church  of  God  by  their  excellent 
example  and  doctrine.  Therefore  I  shall  hold  in 
greater  reverence  and  love  this  noble  man  who 
hath  been  until  now  unknown  to  me:  and  where- 
soever I  shall  find  treatises  written  by  him  or 
concerning  his  deeds,  I  shall  take  heed  to  read 
the  same  carefully  and  diligently  to  search  them 
out.  But  I  pray  if  thou  dost  know  any  other 
memorable  things  concerning  him,  that  thou  wilt 
impart  them  to  me  before  thou  dost  go  forward 
to  further  matters." 

(7)  (The  elder  Brother  answers  him.) 
"Although  I  am  hastening  to  write  of  other 

things,  yet  that  I  may  satisfy  thy  longing  by  a 
few  words,  hear  now  what  a  doctor  of  Theology, 
a  Cantor  at  Paris,  who  formerly  knew  Gerard 
well,  writes  about  him,  and  with  how  great  praise 
he  lauds  him  now  that  he  is  dead." 
50 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

CHAPTER  XVII 

*€  Of  the  noble  eulogy  passed  upon  Gerard  by  a 
Cantor  at  Paris 

(0 

ASTER  GERARD  of  holy  memory,  he 
who  was  calleduThe  Great,"  has  passed 
happily  to  the  Lord.  Truly  he  was 
"  The  Great,"  for  in  his  knowledge  of 


all  tne  liberal  sciences,  both  natural  and  moral, 
of  civil  law,  canon  law  and  of  theology,  he  was 
second  to  no  one  in  the  world,  and  all  these 
branches  of  learning  were  united  in  him. 

He  was  a  man  of  such  saintliness  and  gave  so 
good  an  example  in  his  mortification  of  the  flesh; 
his  refusal  of  temporal  advantages;  his  contempt 
for  the  world;  his  brotherly  love  for  all;  his  zeal 
for  the  salvation  of  souls;  his  effectual  preaching; 
his  reprobation  and  hatred  of  wickedness;  his 
withstanding  of  heretics;  his  enforcement  of  the 
canon  law  against  those  that  broke  the  vow  of 
chastity;  his  conversion  to  the  spiritual  life  of 
divers  men  and  women  who  had  formerly  lived 
according  to  the  world;  and  his  loyalty  to  our 
lord  Urban  the  Sixth — in  all  those  things  I  say  he 
gave  so  good  an  example,  that  many  thousands 
of  men  testify  to  the  belief  that  is  in  them  that  he 
was  not  less  great  in  these  virtues  than  he  was  in 
the  aforesaid  sciences.  Master  William  de  Salvar- 
villa,  Cantor  at  Paris,  Archdeacon  of  Brabant  in 
the  Church  of  Liege,  an  eminent  doctor  in  Theo- 
logy, compiled  the  above  eulogy  from  that  which 
he  heard  from  the  lips  of  men  worthy  of  credit, 
and  from  his  own  knowledge  of  Master  Gerard, 
and  he  believes  beyond  all  doubt  that  it  is  true. 
51 


THE  LIFE  OF 

(2)  (The  novice.) 

"The  words  of  this  doctor  as  to  the  praise 
justly  due  to  Master  Gerard,  the  first  founder  of 
our  Brotherhood,  agree  with  what  thou  hast 
written.  For  that  which  the  doctor  hath  written 
as  a  brief  summary,  thou  hast  told  at  greater 
length — wherefore  the  more  testimonies  I  hear 
of  that  revered  man,  the  more  do  I  rejoice,  and 
give  the  greater  credence  to  his  sayings." 

(2)  (The  elder  Brother.) 

"That  thou  mayest  be  fashioned  to  a  know- 
ledge of  the  faithful  Master  not  by  the  testimony 
of  others  only,  I  will  set  forth  certain  of  the  very 
words  of  his  mouth.  So  shalt  thou  know  clearly 
what  he  taught  and  openly  declared  during  his 
lifetime,  when  thou  dost  read  his  public  profession 
of  faith." 


CHAPTER  XVIII 

*£  Of  his  public  profession  of  faith,  and  of  his 
delivering  the  true  Gospel  in  his  preaching 

(0 

GERARD,  who  am  called  in  the  vulgar 
tongue  "Groote,"  do  declare  in  the 
presence  of  God  Almighty  and  all  the 
Saints,  and  before  you  and  all  men,  that 
in  regard  to  those  things  that  are  of  faith,  I  have 
steadfastly  preached  and  defended  that  faith  which 
is  certain,  pure,  and  Catholic,  resting  upon  Jesus 
Christ  Himself  Who  is  the  chief  corner  Stone. 
Likewise  that  I  have  taught  and  spread  abroad 
like  seed,  those  doctrines  and  methods  that  are 
wholesome  for  morals,  sure,  undoubted,  evangeli- 
cal and  apostolic,  following  the  Divinely  inspired 
52 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

Scriptures  and  the  interpretation  and  meaning 
given  thereunto  bythe  Saints  and  Fathers,namely: 
Ambrose,  Gregory,  Augustine,  Jerome,  Chrysos- 
tom,  Dionysius,  Bernard,  Bede,  Isidore,  Hugo  and 
Richard:  and  the  writings  of  these  Fathers,  to- 
gether with  those  of  other  Saints,  I  do  hold  and 
use  as  inspired. 

Likewise  as  to  those  things  which  I  have  written 
and  preached  concerning  Institutes  made  by  men, 
the  matter  of  the  Decrees  and  Decretals,  and 
above  all  concerning  wicked  and  notorious  wan- 
tons, I  do  hope  that  all  men  who  have  any  inti- 
mate knowledge  of  the  law  may  find  that  those 
things  which  I  have  laid  down  are  either  proved 
certainly  and  beyond  doubt,  or  that  (applying 
the  same  limits  and  qualifications  which  are  given 
in  my  writings  and  discourses)  such  men  may 
approve  thereof  as  being  somewhat  safe,  or  prob- 
able, or  likely  to  be  true,  subject  always  to  the 
judgement  of  the  Holy  Roman  Church,  to  whom 
with  all  humility  I  everywhere  and  always  submit 
myself.  And  if  any  man — which  God  forbid — 
should  say  or  feign  that  I  have  spoken  aught 
against  that  Faith  and  sound  doctrine  which  I 
everywhere  defend,  and  should  either  expressly 
mention  me  by  name  as  so  doing,  or  (if  he  dare 
not  so  much)  should  speak  more  vaguely  to  that 
effect,  and  indirectly  harass  me  by  making  use  of 
the  prejudices  of  Clerks  or  lay  folk; — if  anyone,  I 
say,  shall  thus  allude  to,  or  openly  defame  me,  his 
testimony  shall  be  found  to  be  lying  and  deceitful. 

I  do  receive  the  doctrine  of  submission  to  the 
Bishop,  to  whom  I  pay  deference  in  this  respect, 
but  if — which  God  forbid — any  such  accusation 
against  me  be  found  in  the  writings  of  our  lord  the 
Prince-bishop,  I  do  make  that  answer  which  the 
53 


THE  LIFE  OF 

blessed  Bernard  made  to  certain  letters  of  the 
chief  Pontiff  which  gave  assent  to  an  evil  report. 
"  Either  our  Pontiff  hath  been  ensnared  by  lies, 
or  he  hath  been  overcome  of  importunity." 

(2)  Resolutions  and  Intentions  set  forth  by  Master 
Gerard  in  the  name  of  the  Lord,  but  not  confirmed 
by  vows. 

I  purpose  to  order  my  life  for  the  glory,  honour, 
and  service  of  God  and  the  salvation  of  my  soul; 
to  prefer  no  temporal  good  either  of  the  body,  or 
of  honour,  or  of  fortune,  or  of  knowledge,  to  my 
soul's  salvation.  To  strive  to  excel  in  every  godly 
endeavour  of  which  I  may  be  assured  that  I  have 
any  knowledge  or  discernment,  having  regard  to 
my  bodily  powers  and  my  state  of  life  ;  of  which 
endeavours  I  have  mentioned  some  hereafter. 

(3)  My  first  resolution  is  to  desire  no  further 
preferment,  and  in  the  future  not  to  set  my  hope 
upon,  nor  to  long  for  any  temporal  gain  ;  for  the 
more  I  shall  have,  the  more  covetous  shall  I  cer- 
tainly become  ;  and  in  the  second  place  according 
to  the  rule  of  the  Primitive  Church,  thou  canst 
not  hold  several  benefices.  Likewise  if  thou  doest 
so,  it  shall  repent  thee  in  the  hour  of  thy  death  ; 
for  it  is  commonly  reported  that  never  hath  any 
pluralist  died  without  knowing  such  remorse.  The 
more  benefices  and  goods  I  hold,  the  more  masters 
have  I,  and  the  more  burdens  must  I  bear  ;  and 
this  is  contrary  to  that  freedom  of  soul  which  is  the 
greatest  good  in  the  Spiritual  Life.  By  the  holding 
of  great  possessions  the  affections  are  bound,  and 
being  bound  are  held  thereby  ;  and  the  desire  of 
such  things  doth  infect  the  soul,  and  is  repugnant 
to  peace  of  heart  and  quietness  of  mind  ;  more- 
over the  cares  which  are  connected  therewith  do 
often  defile  and  perturb  the  mind. 

54 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

Likewise  as  the  appetite  for  more  possessions 
must  be  cut  off,  so  my  present  possessions  must 
be  reduced  by  little  and  little  to  a  smaller  com- 
pass, for  if  I  can  give  alms  of  those  things  which 
I  have,  why  should  I  strive  after  more  ?  If  having 
little  I  give  but  little  to  God,  it  is  as  if  having  much  I 
also  gave  much,  for  God  weigheth  not  the  amount 
of  the  gift,  but  rather  the  heart  of  the  giver;  where- 
fore the  widow  who  put  in  two  mites  was  pre- 
ferred by  Him  before  the  rich.  Also  I  see  that  the 
things  which  I  now  have  do  exceedingly  bind  me, 
and  if  those  which  I  should  acquire  were  added 
thereto,  how  much  more  should  I  be  bound?  More- 
over my  present  possessions  are  enough,  having 
regard  to  our  Common  Life  and  my  position. 

(4)  Having  achieved  this  purpose,  I  resolve  that 
I  will  not  pay  court  to  any  Cardinal  or  Ecclesiastic 
so  as  to  gain  benefices  or  temporal  goods,  because 
such  subservience  doth  lead  to  many  falls  and  re- 
lapses into  sin.  Thou  art  weak,  and  if  thou  art 
subservient — except  it  be  to  God — thou  shalt  ex- 
pose thyself  to  many  dangers.  Thou  art  near 
enough  to  death  as  it  is,  and  thou  art  not  so  strong 
as  to  bear  any  revellings. 

In  like  manner  thou  shalt  not  serve  any  temporal 
master  for  the  sake  of  gain;  nor  shalt  thou  be  will- 
ing to  practice  astrology  at  the  bidding  of  any; 
nor  oughtest  thou  to  let  any  man  in  the  world  per- 
suade thee  to  have  dealings  with  any  forbidden 
science  since  these  are  in  themselves  evil  in  many 
ways,  they  cause  distrust  and  suspicion,  and  they 
are  forbidden.  Also  it  is  thy  duty,  so  far  as  it  is 
possible,  to  drive  away  these  superstitions  and  all 
other  curious  arts  from  the  minds  of  men,  pre- 
serving a  quiet  mind,  purity,  and  liberty  of  will. 
So  doing  I  shall  please  God,  by  following  His  good 
SS 


THE  LIFE  OF 

pleasure  in  these  very  matters  in  which  I  formerly 
displeased  Him.  Thou  shalt  never  observe  the 
seasons  that  are  held  to  be  propitious  for  journey- 
ing, or  for  blood  letting  or  for  any  other  thing  save 
in  the  material  sense  of  considering  the  density  of 
the  atmosphere,  for  such  curious  choice  is  for- 
bidden in  the  decrees  and  by  the  Holy  Fathers. 

Likewise  whatever  I  shall  begin,  I  will  begin  it 
in  the  name  of  the  Lord,  and  in  the  matter  I  will 
put  my  hope  in  the  Lord  that  He  will  direct  me 
therein  to  the  way  of  my  salvation ;  put  not  any 
trust  in  the  divining  of  fate,  or  in  reading  the  stars, 
but  hope  only  in  God,  and  in  prayer;  in  good 
angels  and  their  protection.  How  do  I  know 
whether  in  my  journey,  or  mine  undertaking  suc- 
cess shall  be  profitable  to  me?  Truly  such  success 
is  very  often  unprofitable,  and  difficulties  and 
tribulation  are  ofttimes  most  profitable ;  therefore 
I  will  submit  me  to  the  ordinance  of  God.  "  Blessed 
is  the  man  whose  hope  is  in  God"  ;  "  Cast  there- 
fore all  thy  care  upon  Him,  for  He  careth  for  thee !  " 
How  great  is  the  mercy  which  hath  recalled  me 
(as  I  hope)  to  Him,  by  means  of  chastisements 
which  I  bore  unwillingly!  Since  we  should  not  be 
anxious  as  to  what  we  shall  eat,  how  much  less 
should  we  be  so  about  the  forecasts  of  the  stars 
and  other  superstitions?  It  is  needful  for  every 
Christian  to  abandon  himself  in  purity  of  heart 
and  to  commit  himself  to  God. 

(5)  Also  I  will  never  try  to  anticipate  the  future, 
and  for  the  most  part  will  think  but  little  upon  it, for 
I  will  devote  to  God  both  myself  and  everything 
that  doth  concern  me.  Man  is  defiled  by  honours, 
by  favours,  and  by  greed,  after  which  all  men  do 
seek;  and  by  such  knowledge,  whose  object  is 
gain,  his  mind  is  darkened,  his  passions  are 
56 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

aroused,  the  straightness  of  his  nature  is  made 
crooked  and  his  desires  are  tainted,  so  that  he 
cannot  rightly  discern  what  things  are  of  God,  and 
virtuous,  and  good  for  the  body.  Wherefore  it  is 
very  seldom  that  a  man  who  doth  follow  after  know- 
ledge which  bringeth  him  wealth  (as  the  study  of 
medicine,  or  of  laws  or  statutes),  is  right-minded 
or  just  in  his  reasoning,  or  righteous,  or  doth  live 
the  more  contentedly  or  uprightly. 

Do  not  spend  thy  time  in  the  study  of  geometry, 
arithmetic,  rhetoric,  dialectic,  grammar,  songs, 
poetry,  legal  matters  or  astrology;  for  all  these 
things  are  reproved  by  Seneca,  and  a  good  man 
should  withdraw  his  mind's  eye  therefrom  and 
despise  them:  How  much  more,  therefore,  should 
they  be  eschewed  by  a  spiritually-minded  man 
and  a  Christian?  Moreover  such  studies  are  an 
unprofitable  expense  of  time,  and  are  of  no  help 
for  good  living. 

Of  all  the  sciences  of  the  heathen,  their  Moral 
Philosophy  is  least  to  be  avoided — for  this  is 
often  of  great  use  and  profit  both  for  one's  own 
study  and  for  teaching  others.  Wherefore  the 
wiser  amongst  them,  such  as  Socrates  and  Plato, 
turned  all  Philosophy  into  the  consideration  of 
moral  questions,  and  if  they  spoke  of  deep  matters 
they  dealt  therewith  as  in  a  figure  and  lightly, 
dwelling  upon  their  moral  aspect  (as  thou  knowest 
from  the  blessed  Augustine  and  thine  own  study) 
so  that  some  rule  for  conduct  might  always  be 
found  side  by  side  with  knowledge. 

Seneca,  too,  following  this  principle,  as  often 
mingles  moral  dissertations  with  his  discussion 
of  natural  philosophy;  for  whatsoever  doth  not 
make  us  better,  or  induce  us  to  avoid  evil,  is 
harmful. 

57 


THE  LIFE  OF 

The  secrets  of  nature  should  not  be  sought  out 
in  the  writings  of  the  heathen,  or  in  the  books  of 
our  Law,  the  Old  and  New  Testaments,  but  when 
they  meet  us  therein  God  is  to  be  praised  and 
glorified  for  them  and  in  them ;  so  that  the  know- 
ledge of  natural  laws  may  be  of  profit  and  be 
offered  as  a  sacrifice  to  God  Most  High  by  giving 
thank-offerings  to  Him  like  righteous  Abel,  and 
that  like  him  we  may  draw  holy  thoughts  there- 
from to  the  honour  of  God.  But  in  everything 
remember  that  all  these  things  defile  the  mind  and 
do  not  satisfy  it ;  and  through  the  grace  of  the  Most 
High,  thou  shalt  find,  as  I  hope,  that  thou  canst  not 
stomach  them. 

(6)  I  resolve  never  to  take  a  degree  in  medicine, 
because  I  do  not  purpose  to  get  any  gain  or  pre- 
ferment by  such  a  degree ;  and  the  same  resolve 
doth  hold  for  Civil  and  canon  law;  for  the  purpose 
of  a  degree  is  either  gain  or  preferment,  or  vain 
glorification  and  worldly  honour,  which  latter 
things  if  they  lead  not  to  the  former,  are  simply 
useless,  empty,  and  most  foolish,  being  contrary 
to  godliness  and  all  freedom  and  purity.  When  a 
man  doth  crave  for  them  he  falleth  into  many  evils, 
and  they  are  worse  than  the  motives  of  gain  and 
preferment.  I  resolve  not  to  study  any  art,  nor  to 
write  any  book,  nor  to  undertake  any  journey  nor 
any  labour,  nor  to  pursue  any  science,  with  the 
purpose  of  extending  mine  own  fame  and  repute 
for  knowledge,  or  of  gaining  honour,  or  the  grati- 
tude of  any  man  or  for  the  sake  of  leaving  a 
memorial  of  myself  behind  me.  For  if  I  should  do 
these  things,  or  any  act  whatsoever  with  such 
motives  and  take  my  reward  therein,  I  should  not 
be  rewarded  of  my  Father  Which  is  in  Heaven. 
If  I  shall  do  any  of  these  I  will  do  it  always  for 
58 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

some  good  purpose,  looking  for  a  reward  which  is 
eternal:  wherefore  let  the  extending  of  my  repute 
be  in  every  way  avoided.  This  desire  for  empty 
glory,  for  remembrance,  and  for  fame  is  so  admir- 
ably reproved,  even  by  the  Philosophers,  that  any 
man  who  is  worthy  of  praise  would  scarce  harbour 
such  a  motive.  But  if  praise  should  follow  any 
deed  done  really  for  the  sake  of  God  (but  the 
motive  of  which  was  unseen,  though  the  deed  it- 
self was  in  the  light),  give  then  that  praise  and 
glory  to  the  Most  High. 

(7)  Likewise  after  the  example  of  Bernard, 
utter  no  word  by  the  which  thou  mayest  seem  to 
be  very  religious,  or  endowed  with  knowledge. 
Resolve  to  avoid  and  abhor  all  public  disputations 
which  are  but  wranglings  for  success  in  argument, 
or  the  appearance  thereof  (such  as  the  disputations 
of  graduates  in  Theology  and  Arts  at  Paris),  and 
take  no  part  therein.  These  are  unprofitable, 
always  concerned  with  mere  subtleties,  and  for 
the  most  part  superstitious,  sensual,  devilish  or 
earthly,  so  that  the  teaching  thereof  is  often  hurt- 
ful, ever  unprofitable,  and  a  useless  waste  of  time; 
— meanwhile  thou  canst  gain  spiritual  profit  by 
prayer,  or  meditation,  or  the  study  of  some  holy 
book. 

So  also  I  will  never  argue  with  anyone  in  private 
unless  it  is  certain  and  evident  that  some  good  end 
shall  follow,  or  unless  my  fellow  disputant  doth 
desire  to  hear  me,  or  is  one  with  whom  I  can 
confer  without  wrangling,  and  temperately  which 
conditions  are  to  be  observed  except  when  malice 
doth  demand  severity  for  some  eventual  good:  but 
even  so  I  will  never  act  without  due  deliberation. 
It  is  evident  that  to  attain  a  good  end,  everything 
must  ever  be  ordered  for  the  Glory  of  God;  that 
59 


THE  LIFE  OF 

is,  that  one  must  pray  continually:  wherefore  talk 
not  with  anyone  unless  he  doth  admit  the  truth. 

(8)  Thou  shalt  never  study  to  take  a  degree  in 
Theology,  nor  strive  therefor,  because:  (l.)  I  care 
not  to  follow  after  gain  or  preferment  or  reputa- 
tion, and  knowledge  I  may  have  equally  well  with- 
out a  degree.  (2.)  The  common  life  of  an  university 
is  carnal  and  is  for  them  that  savour  carnal  things. 
(3)  In  many  respects  thou  mayest  be  hindered 
from  promoting  the  spiritual  health  of  thy  neigh- 
bour, from  prayer,  from  purity  of  mind  and  from 
contemplation.  (4)  One  must  be  present  at  many 
vain  lectures  and  be  in  the  company  of  a  multitude 
of  men,  by  which  things  a  man  is  defiled  and 
turned  from  his  path. 

Thou  shalt  never  busy  thyself  with  law  or 
medicine  save  when  occasion  ariseth  and  when 
thou  canst  do  some  good  thereby,  for:  (l)  These 
studies  have  no  nourishment  in  them,  but  do  turn 
aside  the  mind;  yet  for  the  sake  of  peacemaking, 
or  in  case  of  necessity,  or  when  some  urgent  cause 
ariseth  one  may  meddle  with  law;  and  with  medi- 
cine also  for  the  sake  of  one's  own  bodily  health 
or  that  of  a  fellow  man.  (2)  These  be  worldly 
matters  in  which  it  is  convenient  rather  to  take  the 
counsel  of  others,  than  to  give  advice.  (3)  The 
study  of  medicine  is  forbidden  to  Divines,  Monks, 
and  them  that  do  long  after  the  Law  of  God. 

Thou  shalt  not  give  medicine  of  doubtful  virtue, 
nor  prescribe  any  medicine  whatever  for  a  disease 
the  nature  whereof  is  uncertain,  nor  give  a  potion 
to  any  sick  man  save  under  most  urgent  necessity 
when  no  other  adviser  may  be  had;  otherwise 
thou  shalt  never  intrude  thyself:  thou  seest  how 
greatly  good  men  do  rejoice  in  being  freed  from 
practising  this  art. 

60 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

Thou  shalt  not  advise  upon,  nor  busy  thyself 
with  causes  concerning  matters  of  opinion  or  con- 
troversy unless:  (l)  It  be  clearly  apparent  to  thee 
that  otherwise  some  falsehood  might  be  propa- 
gated ;  or  (2)  for  Charity's  sake;  or  (3)  the  whole 
cause  be  that  of  righteousness;  or  (4)  it  be  most 
certainly  for  the  curbing  of  evil  manners;  or  (5) 
to  prevent  the  oppression  of  the  poor;  or  (6)  un- 
less thou  canst  intervene  and  yet  preserve  an 
equal  mind.  After  such  interference  withdraw 
thyself  so  that  there  remain  to  thee  no  care  for 
the  residue  of  the  matter.  Likewise  take  good 
heed  that  thou  be  careful  not  to  be  moved  by 
friendship,  or  kinship,  or  hatred,  and  if  thy  friend 
or  kinsman,  or  one  that  was  aforetime  thine  enemy 
be  concerned,  search  thy  heart  to  know  if  thou 
wouldest  act  in  the  same  manner  if  he  were  a 
stranger  or  not  thine  enemy.  It  is  evident,  as 
Virgil  saith,  that  the  happiness  of  the  dweller  in 
the  country  is  that  "  he  hath  not  looked  upon 
the  iron  rigour  of  the  law  and  the  mad  turmoil 
of  the  Forum." 

Thou  shalt  not  appear  before  a  spiritual  officer 
or  judge,  as  a  favour  to  any  friend  or  kinsman  or 
other  man,  nor  at  all  unless  the  most  urgent  call 
of  duty  require  it.  If  such  case  of  necessity  urge 
thee,  thou  oughtest  to  send  a  deputy,  and  not  to 
go  thyself,  because  by  this  is  quietness  of  mind 
disturbed  if  thou  dost  intrude  thyself  into  the  affairs, 
the  tumult  and  tempest  of  the  world.  In  all  other 
conditions  let  the  deadbury  their  dead.  Thou  shalt 
not  appear  before  the  civil  magistrates  or  the 
secular  judge  in  Deventer  save  in  the  case  of 
similar  necessity,  for  thy  friends  deal  well  enough 
with  all  such  matters  before  magistrates. 

Never  busy  thyself  with  any  controversies  of 
61 


THE  LIFE  OF 

men  whatsoever  (save  as  above)  unless  it  be  to 
compose  them,  and  when  this  can  be  done  in  a 
short  time  and  without  brawling.  Even  when  such 
composition  ought  to  be  made,  if  it  can  be  done 
as  well  by  another,  do  not  intrude  thyself;  always 
consider  this.  Yet  put  not  aside  the  making  of 
peace  when  thou  canst  truly  make  it,  out  of  de- 
ference to  thine  own  quietness. 

( l  o)  Whensoever  any  kinsman  of  thine  is  beaten, 
or  slain,  or  evilly  entreated,  thou  shalt  never  evilly 
entreat  him  that  did  the  injury;  nor  ever  give 
counsel  against  him  to  his  hurt;  nor  ever  close 
thy  mouth  against  him,  nor  avoid  him.  Rather 
admonish  him  with  words  of  comfort,  or  lead  him 
back  to  peace.  Also  if  his  friends  would  take 
vengeance  thou  shalt  dissuade  them  therefrom 
with  words  of  peace,  and  from  injury  that  they 
do  it  not. 

Do  thou  forgive  all  men,  and  be  an  ensample 
in  so  doing,  and  so  much  the  more  as  thou  dost 
admonish  others.  I  will  never  have  part  in  the 
doings  of  my  friends  or  kinsmen  or  betters,  save 
only  such  as  are  acts  of  piety,  tending  to  mercy 
and  duty  and  justice,  and  also  such  as  may  not 
be  done  so  well  through  another  man.  Yet  would 
it  be  evil  to  turn  aside,  for  the  sake  of  preserving 
mine  own  quietness,  from  works  of  piety  and  jus- 
tice which  could  not  be  done  through  another,  and 
from  my  duty  in  serving  my  neighbour. 

Of  the  study  of  Holy  Books 
(ll)  I  now  return  to  consider  the  pursuit  of 
knowledge.  Let  the  root  of  thy  study  and  the 
mirror  of  thy  life  be  these:  First,  the  Gospel  of 
Christ,  for  therein  is  the  Life  of  Christ.  (2)  The 
lives  and  discourses  of  the  Fathers.  (3)  The 
62 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

Epistles  of  Paul  and  the  other  Canonical  Epistles, 
and  the  Acts  of  the  Apostles.  (4)  Holy  Books,  as 
the  meditations  of  Bernard  and  the  Horologium 
of  Anselm,  Bernard  on  the  Conscience,  the  So- 
liloquies of  Augustine,  and  suchlike  books.  (5) 
The  legends  and  devotions  of  the  Saints,  the  In- 
structions of  the  Fathers  on  Conduct,  such  as 
the  Pastoral  of  Gregory,  the  blessed  Augustine 
on  Monastic  work,  Gregory  on  Job,  and  so  forth. 
(6)  The  Homilies  of  the  Holy  Fathers  and  of  the 
Four  Doctors  upon  the  Gospels,  the  Interpreta- 
tions of  the  Holy  Fathers  and  Commentaries 
upon  the  Epistles  of  Paul,  for  these  are  included 
in  the  authorized  readings  of  the  Church.  (7) 
The  study  of  the  Proverbs  of  Solomon,  Ecclesi- 
astes  and  Ecclesiasticus,  for  these  are  included 
in  the  lectionaries  and  authorized  readings  of  the 
Church.  "  I  will  pray  with  the  spirit  and  I  will 
pray  with  the  understanding  also."  (8)  The  study 
and  interpretation  of  the  Psalter,  for  this  is  in- 
cluded in  the  services  of  the  Church  of  the  Holy 
Fathers.  "  I  will  sing  with  the  spirit  and  I  will 
sing  with  the  understanding  also."  (9)  The  study 
of  the  Books  of  Moses;  the  historical  books — 
Joshua,  Judges  and  Kings;  of  the  Prophets  and 
the  expositions  of  the  Fathers  upon  the  same. 

(12)  As  to  the  manner  of  perusing  the  Decrees, 
so  as  to  know  what  was  determined  of  our  fore- 
fathers and  of  the  Church:  one  must  not  strive 
to  master  them,  but  only  peruse  them;  (1)  lest 
through  ignorance  of  the  law  thou  pervert  piety 
into  disobedience.  (2)  That  thou  mayest  see  the 
material  fruit  of  the  Primitive  Church.  (3)  That 
thou  mayest  know  from  what  thou  thyself  should- 
est  refrain,  and  from  what  thou  shouldest  admonish 
others  to  refrain. 

63 


THE  LIFE  OF 

(13)  Thou  oughtest  to  hear  Mass  to  the  end, 
every  day  that  thou  canst,  for  thus  it  is  ordained 
even  for  lay  folk  on  Sundays  in  the  directions  for 
the  Mass  (de  consec.  I.  C.)  and  for  Clerks  that 
they  hear  It  daily,  as  is  said  in  the  note  in  the 
same  place.  Also  remain  in  the  Church  on  feast 
days  until  the  solemnization  of  the  Mass  is  com- 
pleted. Singing  is  a  help  to  devotion  for  the  natural 
body  as  thou  knowest  by  experience.  One  should 
always  rise  for  the  reading  of  the  Gospel,  and 
stand  up,  wherefore  it  is  said  in  the  directions 
(de  consec.  I.  C):  "By  our  Apostolic  authority 
we  command  that  men  sit  not,  but  stand,  rever- 
ently bending  at  the  reading  of  the  Gospel/'  In 
the  word  reverently  is  implied  the  honour  due  to 
the  Gospel,  as  also  in  the  place  wherein  it  is  said: 
"  Let  them  hear  the  words  thereof  with  attention 
and  adore  with  faith/'  that  is,  "  Let  them  show 
reverence  by  the  posture  of  the  body";  this  doth 
consist — first  in  the  bending,  secondly  in  the 
lowering  of  the  hood  as  is  customary,  thirdly  in 
bowing  at  the  Names  of  Jesus  and  Mary;  for 
those  devoted  to  God  have  this  custom. 

Likewise,  when  the  Gospel  is  read,  the  mind 
should  not  occupy  itself  with  any  other  devotion, 
or  reading  which  doth  demand  attention;  for  the 
senses,  when  occupied  upon  several  matters,  are 
less  intent  upon  any  single  one.  The  words  of  the 
Gospel  and  of  the  Apostolic  writings  are  ordained 
to  be  heard  at  the  Celebrations,  as  is  said  in  the 
directions  (de  consec.  I.  D.):  "  It  is  vain  to  hear  if 
we  attend  not." 

Moreover,  one  should  read  nothing  nor  meditate 

upon  aught  else,  for  the  duty  of  the  moment  is  to 

attend  duly  to  the  Gospel,  and  we  do  take  away 

therefrom  any  attention  which  we  may  expend 

64 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

upon  other  prayers  and  meditations.  Our  bowing 
ourselves  at  these  words  and  the  bodily  posture 
of  reverence  are  symbols  of  the  reverence  of  our 
minds,  and  these  be  false  symbols  if  so  be  that 
the  things  signified  answer  not  thereto.  More- 
over, the  outward  observance  is  a  means  to  induce 
inward  reverence,  but  it  is  vain  if  the  one  answer 
not  to  the  other. 

(14)  Furthermore,  to  be  reverent  with  the  lips 
and  the  understanding  also  is  a  greater  thing 
than  to  show  reverence  with  the  lips  only,  or  by 
the  lowering  of  the  hood;  wherefore  I  will  lower 
my  hood  to  hear,  I  will  hear  with  the  ear,  and  I 
will  hear  with  the  understanding  also.  Otherwise 
the  words  are  as  a  tinkling  cymbal  or  as  sounding 
brass.  No  words  or  sayings  are  mine  own  if  the 
meaning  thereof  doth  not  reach  my  mind — also 
thou  shalt  stand  with  bended  knee,  with  head  un- 
covered and  with  bowed  back  after  the  Consecra- 
tion of  the  Sacred  Host,  if  thou  art  able  to  see  It, 
or  the  Chalice.  This  humble  adoration  and  abase- 
ment of  body  is  seemly  before  God,  and  doth  in 
every  way  betoken  an  attitude  of  mind  which  is 
fitting  as  a  help  to  devotion ;  yea,  and  most  fitting 
is  the  bending  of  the  head  over  the  arm  as  thou 
dost  know:  for  the  servant  is  by  all  means  bound 
to  show  reverence  in  the  presence  of  his  Lord.  A 
bended  posture  doth  admirably  befit  devotion  of 
mind,  for  the  motions  of  the  spirit  do  bear  relation 
to  the  posture  of  the  body.  When  thou  art  afar 
off  or  canst  not  see,  prostrate  thyself  and  bow 
thine  head  and  pray  to  thy  God  in  secret  from  the 
Sanctus  to  the  Pax,  and  afterward,  whether  thou 
dost  partake  or  not,  until  the  Gospel  of  St.  John. 

(15)  Receive  the  Pax  with  reverence  and  devo- 
tion, for  it  is  a  contact  with  the  Body  of  the  Lord 

65  F 


THE  LIFE  OF 

through  the  mouth  of  the  priest.  Is  not  reverence 
paid  to  The  Veronica,  and  to  the  picture  of  Christ, 
though  it  is  not  sanctified  by  His  bodily  presence? 
In  the  Primitive  Church  all  the  faithful  were  wont 
to  communicate,  and  in  place  of  such  Communion 
the  Pax  is  given  as  being  in  some  measure  a  re- 
ceiving of  Christ's  Body.  The  reason  (as  I  hold) 
that  His  Body  is  not  now  given  so  generally  is 
that  in  the  Primitive  Church  when  His  Blood  was 
but  lately  shed,  men  were  better,  and  religious 
fervour  was  in  full  vigour  and  at  its  height:  but 
this  is  now  grown  old,  wherefore  He  hath  with- 
drawn Himself. 

When  the  Pax  doth  come  be  thou  prepared  as 
if  thou  didst  verily  receive  the  Body  of  Christ, 
and  at  that  time  lift  up  the  love  of  thine  heart 
and  prepare  thyself  so  that  though  thou  are  not 
able  carnally  to  receive  the  Elements  of  the  Holy 
Sacrament,  thou  mayest  at  least  do  so  in  the 
Spirit.  After  receiving  such  communion  through 
the  Pax,  the  love  of  thine  heart  must  abide  and 
endure  inwardly;  but  if  thou  dost  begin  to  wander 
in  mind,  as  doth  often  happen  to  thee  when  thou 
dost  meditate  without  ordering  thy  thoughts  be- 
forehand, turn  thy  mind  to  Christ's  Passion. 

(16)  Likewise  from  the  Sanctus  onward  prepare 
to  look  upon  the  Host — are  not  all  men  wont  to 
make  preparation  before  looking  upon  their  King, 
by  whom  also  they  must  be  seen?  After  this  make 
thyself  ready  for  the  Reception  and  do  nought 
besides,  for  at  that  time  the  Presence  of  Christ 
doth  work  upon  thee  and  doth  help  thy  weakness; 
thus  shalt  thou  be  moved  to  love  the  Sacrament. 
This  is  evident  from  the  words  wherein  it  is  said, 
"  Lift  up  your  hearts  "  and  "  We  have  lifted  them 
up  to  the  Lord." 

66 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

Also  always  draw  so  near  the  Priest  as  thy  con- 
dition doth  permit,  to  hear  the  Mass  and  to  look 
upon  the  Host,  and  stand  in  the  Presence  There- 
of. Be  not  willing  to  consult  for  any  man  that  he 
may  be  ordained,  nor  to  speak  for  him,  nor  assist 
him  to  this  end  unless  he  be  most  devout.  The 
first  of  these  resolutions  is  on  account  of  the  re- 
sponses pertaining  to  the  office  which  ought  to  be 
made,  and  are  not  made,  as  is  shown  in  the  fourth 
of  the  Sentences  and  in  the  Decrees;  the  second 
is,  on  account  of  the  risk  of  Simony  which  doth 
often  occur;  and  also,  by  reason  of  the  unprofit- 
able state  of  the  Church. 

With  regard  to  abstinence  these  things  seem 
good,  but  are  not  the  subject  of  promise.  First  to 
keep  the  fasts  that  are  ordained;  secondly,  never 
to  eat  flesh  meats.  The  reasons  hereof  are  to  be 
found  in  the  Chapter  of  the  Decrees  which  is  called 
Margarita  (de  consec,  §  v).  Thirdly,  save  for  just 
cause,  not  to  omit  to  fast  during  Advent  and 
Septuagesima.  Fourthly,  let  there  be  a  daily  fast 
which  doth  consist  in  no't  wholly  satisfying  the 
appetite  unless  cold  weather  doth  hinder  this  re- 
solve. All  philosophers  do  advise  this,  specially 
Seneca  and  Aristotle.  Withhold  thy  hand  while 
appetite  doth  yet  remain:  the  moment  of  its  satis- 
faction is  hard  to  know,  yet  do  thou  thus  reflect 
upon  it  by  considering  how  much  thou  wouldst 
wish  to  eat  if  it  were  right  for  thee  to  consult  thy 
desire,  and  while  this  doth  still  endure,  deny  some 
part  thereof  as  shall  seem  reasonable  to  thee. 

Fifthly,  toward  the  close  of  a  meal,  or  before 
partaking  of  the  last  dish,  consider  how  much  thou 
hast  consumed,  and  how  much  more  thou  wouldest 
eat  if  thou  didst  continue,  and  in  future  omit  some- 
what of  the  earlier  or  latter  part  of  the  meal. 
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THE  LIFE  OF 

Sixthly,  at  the  beginning  when  thou  dost  set  forth 
to  prepare  thy  food  think  upon  the  victual  and 
how  much  thou  dost  require.  Seventhly,  take  but 
one  cooked  pear  after  thy  meal,  and  that  not  of 
inordinate  size,  or  three  of  the  very  smallest. 
Eighthly,  always  eat  in  the  evening  between  the 
fourth  and  fifth  hours,  unless  the  presence  of 
guests,  or  infirmity,  or  some  accident,  such  as  a 
journey,  compel  thee.  This  is  approved  for  the 
following  reasons:  (l)  This  hour  is  convenient  for 
digestion  and  for  the  hindering  of  that  corruption 
of  food  in  the  stomach  which  would  take  place  in 
waking  hours  through  lack  of  warmth ;  (2)  during 
waking  hours  study  and  other  matters  such  as 
care  or  sadness  do  impede  digestion;  (3)  take 
food  at  this  time  lest  drink  following  food  may 
hinder  digestion;  (4)  it  doth  prevent  drink  so 
taken  from  causing  disturbance  as  otherwise  doth 
often  happen;  (5)  lest  raw  fruit,  vegetables,  and 
the  like  might  do  hurt  as  they  would  if  taken  in 
the  daytime ;  (6)  thy  sleep  will  be  the  better,  for  a 
full  belly  doth  slumber  readily;  (7)  at  that  time 
study  and  prayer  which  are  the  portion  of  the  day- 
time do  less  hinder  sleep;  (8)  by  this  custom  thou 
wilt  get  thee  to  bed  quickly,  and  always  at  the 
same  hour;  (9)  by  so  doing  one  may  get  con- 
tinuous sleep  through  going  to  rest  in  good  time; 
( l  o)  the  love  of  study  will  not  tempt  thee  too  much 
at  night;  (11)  by  this  means  thou  hast  the  day 
unbroken  for  work  and  prayer.  (12)  Thus,  all  thy 
waking  hours  are  spent  in  abstinence  and  fasting, 
are  unhindered  and  fit  for  the  service  of  God  and 
for  work.  Also  a  man  hath  more  desire  for  food 
when  he  is  eating  than  when  he  is  altogether  ab- 
staining, so  that  one  cannot  so  readily  practise 
abstinence  when  near  to  or  at  the  table.  From  the 
68 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

Exaltation  of  the  Holy  Cross  till  Easter  take  but 
one  daily  meal;  this  is  the  custom  of  the  Car- 
thusians and  Bernardines  and  others :  this  Season 
doth  begin  in  September  about  the  Equinox,  and 
doth  continue  until  near  about  the  Vernal  Equinox. 

(17)  In  seasons  of  great  cold  it  is  lawful  to  take 
more  food,  but  yet  not  exceeding  one  meal  daily ; 
— such  is  the  teaching  of  Hippocrates ;  this  doth 
help  thee  to  resist  the  cold,  which  thou  couldst 
scarce  do  otherwise;  for  the  same  reason  thou 
mayest  sleep  longer  by  one  hour  or  an  hour  and 
a  half.  When  it  is  needful  to  eat  twice  in  the  day 
take  a  small  amount,  and  food  of  light  quality, 
such  as  one  egg  and  no  more,  or  rather  some 
drying  food  as  bread  and  wine,  or  vegetables,  with 
a  little  bread,  but  if  thou  take  wine  let  it  be  for 
thy  stomach's  sake.  The  reasons  of  this  are  as 
above,  where  I  have  argued  of  the  need  to  eat  at 
night. 

I  would  wish  to  be  able  never  to  drink  wine 
unnecessarily  so  long  as  I  am  in  good  health,  lest 
I  violate  the  precepts  of  Paul ;  for  to  do  so  is 
luxury  and  is  over  costly.  One  should  never  drink 
immediately  before  or  after  a  meal,  nor  during 
the  course  thereof  unless  infirmity  or  some  most 
urgent  cause  compel.  During  and  after  manual 
work  one  should  by  no  means  drink  anything 
unless  the  body  is  cool:  this  is  healthy  for  body 
and  soul.  Let  nothing  lead  thee  to  drink  between 
times,  or  so  as  to  break  a  fast:  it  is  good  to  bind 
thy  feet  in  the  fetters  of  wisdom.  Set  a  time 
wherein  to  read  what  thou  dost  write  in  this  book 
for  it  doth  order  thy  life.  It  doth  seem  to  me  that 
the  fathers  in  the  desert  offered  short  and  frequent 
prayers,  so  that  the  heart  might  be  raised  con- 
tinually to  the  Lord,  and  might  not  be  set  on 
69 


THE  LIFE  OF 

worldly  affairs,  but  be  abstracted  therefrom,  and 
thus  should  one  do. 

(18)  I  do  purpose  in  the  Name  of  the  Lord 
always  to  fast  upon  the  fourth  day  of  the  week 
unless  infirmity,  or  reasonable  cause  hinder  me. 
Yet  this  I  ordain  not  as  an  unalterable  rule,  but 
as  somewhat  whereat  to  strive;  and  so  also  on  the 
Sabbath,  and  on  the  sixth  day — for  upon  the  fourth 
Judas  betrayed  the  Lord,  and  on  the  sixth  was  He 
crucified.  He  who  fasteth  not  on  these  days  doth 
needlessly  betray  Him  and  taketh  part  with  His 
murderers.  I  am  the  more  bound  to  observe  these 
days  in  that  by  the  apportionment  of  God  it  is  my 
lot  to  be  a  Clerk,  moreover  by  such  fast  my  health 
is  preserved  and  I  do  feel  that  thereby  my  soul  is 
better  with  her  God.  But  even  if  such  abstinence 
should  seem  to  hurt  the  body  in  some  small 
measure,  think  not  of  that,  for  thou  hast  always 
been  in  better  health  when  thou  didst  fast.  Ever 
pay  some  tribute  to  thy  God,  and  thou  wilt  ever 
remember  Him  the  better. 

(19)  Avoid  haste,  eagerness,  and  gluttony  in 
eating,  for  such  greed  proceedeth  from  inordinate 
love  of  its  object.  A  greedy  mouth  and  lust  for 
meat  have  an  intermixture  of  sin.  Gregory  in  his 
Exposition  of  Job  saith:  "This  doth  stir  up 
loquacity,  leadeth  to  excess,  doth  heat  the  mind 
and  turn  it  from  the  path  just  as  drunkenness  or 
too  much  talk  do  kindle  it  and  lead  it  into  snares." 

This  doth  also  cut  off  and  shut  out  all  thought 
of  God. 

It  is  better  to  do  one  action  well  with  great  de- 
liberation, than  through  lack  thereof  to  be  thrown 
out  of  one's  course.  Also,  as  concerneth  bodily 
health,  in  proportion  as  food  is  taken  well  and  with 
deliberation,  so  much  the  more  readily  and  whole- 
70 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

somely  is  it  digested.  The  same  habit  of  delibera- 
tion should  prevail  in  writing  and  speaking  and  in 
action  also,  because  it  is  impossible  to  seek  therein 
the  Glory  of  God,  if  a  man  so  impetuously  rush 
into  a  matter  that  his  whole  strength  is  occupied 
in  it.  Learn  then  to  be  slow  and  restrained  in 
action. 

Do  not  do  any  good  thing  in  such  a  way  as  to 
run  into  disobedience.  In  matters  of  temporal 
wealth,  repayments,  and  expenditure  upon  books, 
regard  thyself  as  a  steward,  and  look  to  it  that 
thou  be  found  faithful.  Therefore  be  frugal  in 
supplying  to  thyself  food  and  raiment,  that  thou 
mayest  the  better  supply  the  needy,  and  worthier 
men  than  thou,  and  mayest  promote  the  salvation 
of  souls.  Never  give  aught  that  is  of  any  worth 
to  one  that  is  not  needy,  for  thou  wilt  find  very 
many  that  are  in  want,  and  if  thou  dost  give  to 
them  that  have  abundance,  thou  art  not  a  faithful 
steward,  nor  prudent  to  thine  own  salvation.  In 
thy  giving  take  no  thought  of  carnal  things.  I  will 
not  receive  temporal  gifts  from  any  man  so  long 
as  needier  persons  than  I  may  be  found,  for  what 
I  would  not  do  myself,  that  will  I  not  ask  of  an- 
other. 

(20)  Likewise,  Gerard  said,  a  man  ought  not  to 
be  disturbed  about  any  affair  of  this  world.  He 
who  doeth  that  which  he  knoweth,  doth  deserve 
to  know  much.  He  who  doeth  not  that  which  he 
knoweth  doth  deserve  to  be  in  darkness. 

It  is  a  great  matter  to  obey  in  those  things  which 
are  contrary  to  our  natural  man,  and  are  burden- 
some— this  is  true  obedience. 

Before  all  things  and  in  all  things  study  specially 
to  be  humble  inwardly,  and  also  outwardly  before 
the  brethren. 

71 


THE  LIFE  OF 

The  knowledge  of  all  knowledge  is  for  a  man  to 
know  that  he  knoweth  nothing. 

The  more  a  man  is  assured  that  he  is  far  from 
perfection,  the  nearer  is  he  thereto. 

The  beginning  of  vainglory  is  to  be  pleasing  to 
oneself. 

By  this  is  a  man  known  better  than  by  aught 
else,  that  he  is  praised. 

Thou  oughtest  always  to  strive  to  note  some 
good  in  another,  and  to  think  thereof. 

Inordinate  desire  for  anything  not  pertaining  to 
God  is  as  the  sin  of  fornication:  therefore  the  pro- 
phet saith:  "  It  is  good  for  me  to  cleave  to  God." 

We  ought  to  be  strenuous  in  prayer,  and  not 
lightly  to  desist  from  it  nor  think  that  God  is 
unwilling  to  hear  us. — Though  oftentimes  re- 
pelled, we  should  not  despair. 

He  who  is  faint-hearted  should  pray  as  a  son 
to  a  good  father,  as  is  said  in  the  Gospel:  "  Which 
of  you  if  he  ask  his  father  bread,  will  he  give 
him  a  stone,"  and  so  forth. 

In  everything  in  the  whole  world  there  is 
temptation,  though  a  man  perceive  it  not. 

(21)  The  greatest  of  temptations  is  not  to  feel 
temptation;  so  long  as  a  man  knoweth  that  there 
is  somewhat  in  him  to  be  pruned  away,  so  long 
doth  he  stand  well. 

When  any  evil  is  suggested  to  thee,  think  what 
thou  wouldest  ask  thy  fellows  to  do  in  like  case, 
then  doth  the  Devil  stand  confused. 

Always  dwell  more  upon  the  hope  of  Eternal 
Glory  than  upon  fear  of  Hell. 

Let  every  man  beware  of  causing  scandal  to 
others  by  his  conduct;  let  him  study  to  amend 
the    same,   and    everywhere    to    behave    himself 
honestly,  that  others  may  be  the  more  edified. 
72 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

With  whatsoever  thoughts  a  man  doth  fall 
asleep,  with  such  doth  he  awaken;  at  these  times 
it  is  well  to  pray  or  to  read  some  psalms. 

Slight  shame  borne  here  doth  do  away  unend- 
ing shame  before  God  and  all  the  Saints. 

Study  only  to  please  Him  Who  doth  know  thee 
and  all  that  pertaineth  to  thee:  suppose  that  thou 
dost  please  all  men  but  dost  displease  God;  what 
should  it  profit  thee?  therefore  turn  away  thy 
heart  from  the  creature,  yea,  even  with  great 
violence. 

Think  how  thou  mayest  be  altogether  con- 
queror of  thyself  and  lift  up  thy  heart  ever  to 
God,  as  saith  the  prophet:  "Mine  eyes  are  ever 
toward  the  Lord." 


Thanks  be  to  God. 


73 


APPENDIX  TO  THE  LIFE  OF  GERARD 
GROOTE 

A  Letter  to  the  Bishop  of  Utrecht  on  behalf  of 
Master  Gerard  Groote  when  he  was  forbidden 
to  preach  public kly. 

Most  Potent  Father,  and  Prince  of  the  people 
of  Utrecht, 

T  hath  happened  lately  that  Gerard 
Groote,  a  deacon  of  your  Diocese,  in- 
spired by  the  Lord,  and  kindled  with 
zeal  to  preach  the  Word  even  in  these 
latter  days,  hath  denounced  before  clerks  and  lay- 
folk  their  wickedness,  and  maintained  wholesome, 
true,  Evangelical  and  Apostolic  doctrine  as  against 
heretics,  usurers,  and  clerks  that  live  in  con- 
cubinage. Acting  with  your  license  and  that  of 
the  Parochial  Clergy  he  hath  preached  also  against 
various  crimes  and  corruptions  of  divers  men  in 
your  diocese,  not  without  some  fruit,  and  hath 
sown  the  seed  not  without  increase  (as  he  doth 
hope).  For  by  his  preaching  the  hearts  of  many 
have  been  turned  to  the  Lord,  leaving  their  former 
perverse  and  evil  courses. 

Through  his  labours  there  are  many  virgins 
set  as  flowers  in  the  field  of  the  Lord;  lives  of 
chaste  widowhood  and  voluntary  poverty,  as  an 
harvest  therein;  renunciations  of  the  world,  acts 
of  restitution  and  many  other  fruits  sprung  from 
the  seed  of  Ecclesiastical  and  Catholic  doctrine; 
74 


THE  LIFE  OF  GERARD  THE  GREAT 

and  these  things  are  seen  and  known  of  them  that 
do  truly  love  God. 

By  his  means  also  the  boldness  of  certain 
heretics  who  creep  in  secret  places  on  the  earth 
hath  been  kept  down,  and  the  wickedness  of  usury 
and  disordered  lust  have  ceased  from  the  land  of 
Zeeland.  But  yet  these  clerks  and  priests  that 
live  in  concubinage  have  procured  (as  we  suppose) 
by  means  of  a  letter  obtained  from  you  that  this 
Gerard  should  be  restrained  indirectly  from  exer- 
cising the  office  of  a  preacher,  and  this  either 
without  cause,  or  without  any  that  he  knoweth. 

For  although  your  letter  did  apply  to  all  priests, 
yet  almost  all  save  Gerard  have  been  restored  to 
their  offices;  and  this,  as  he  thinks,  doth  arise 
not  from  the  deliberate  intention  of  the  bishop, 
but  through  the  suggestions  of  malicious  men 
causing  no  small  loss  and  detriment  to  the  cause 
of  Holy  edification.  At  this  do  heretics  rejoice 
and  creep  about  more  boldly;  for  this  cause  are 
those  enemies  of  the  Church  glad,  namely  the 
Clerks  who  live  in  concubinage,  continuing  to  live 
most  uncleanly  in  the  lusts  of  the  flesh:  usurers 
are  well  pleased,  and  scandals  are  increased,  yea, 
even  more  perchance  than  carnal  and  worldly 
minds  can  comprehend.  Although  this  Gerard 
calleth  God  to  witness  that  so  far  as  he  himself 
is  concerned  he  would  wish  to  be  at  leisure  to 
explore  the  truth,  and  to  be  quiet,  yet  he  perceives 
that  the  enemy  of  mankind  is  everywhere  striving 
against  men  and  is  driving  them  over  the  preci- 
pices and  into  the  abyss  of  sin;  and  he  hath  hope 
that  some  of  these  may  by  his  preaching  be  de- 
livered from  the  snare  of  the  hunter  and  from  the 
noisome  pestilence,  which  hope  the  effects  of  his 
former  preaching  do  justify;  therefore  he  is  stirred 
75 


THE  LIFE  OF 

by  zeal  for  the  House  of  the  Lord,  inflamed  and 
urged  by  love  for  his  neighbour  to  preach  and  sow 
the  seed  of  the  Word  of  God  (if  it  may  be)  with- 
out temporal  reward,  in  poverty  and  with  humility 
but  in  all  truth,  as  formerly  he  preached  and 
sowed  the  same  not  without  visible  fruit.  If  a 
special  license  is  refused  him  he  doth  ask  that  at 
least  the  parochial  clergy  may  not  be  forbidden 
to  employ  him  if  they  will;  for  according  to  the 
custom  of  the  State  and  diocese  of  Utrecht  they 
have  been  wont  always  to  employ  any  trusty  and 
good  preachers  whom  they  would,  without  such 
license.  Furthermore  if  in  spite  of  the  good  fruit 
his  preaching  hath  borne,  and  the  aforesaid  cus- 
tom, you  should  wish  to  inhibit  Gerard  from 
preaching  (which  thing  God  forbid  should  happen 
in  your  dominions),  he  doth  ask  and  humbly  and 
urgently  desire  of  you:  (l)  to  declare  to  him  the 
pretext  and  reason  of  such  inhibition;  (2)  not  to 
judge  him,  deprive  him  of  his  right,  nor  suspend 
him  from  the  exercise  thereof  without  such  ad- 
monitions as  ought  always  to  precede  judgement; 
for  he  is  ready  to  argue  each  several  doctrine  that 
he  doth  teach  in  public  and  private,  not  only  be- 
fore you,  Father,  but  also  before  any  man,  and 
truly  to  prove  the  same  from  the  sacred  writings 
of  the  Saints  and  from  the  Scriptures:  and  if  it 
be  necessary  to  lay  them  before  the  Supreme 
Pontiff. 

A  Letter  of  Master  William  de  Salvarvilla,  a 
Cantor  at  Paris,  to  Pope  Urban  VI,  asking 
that  a  license  to  preach  be  granted  to  Master 
Gerard. 

To  our  most  Holy  Father  in  Christ,  our  Lord 
Urban  VI.,  by  Divine  Providence  Pope,  Supreme 
76 


GERARD  THE  GREAT 

Pontiff  of  the  Inviolable  Church  of  Rome,  and  of 
the  whole  world,  these  from  your  Holiness'  most 
humble  petitioner  and  servant  William  de  Salvar- 
villa,  Chanter  of  Paris  and  Archdeacon  of  Brabant 
in  the  Church  of  Liege. 

Most  Holy  Father, 

In  all  subjection  and  most  humbly  and 
devoutly  kissing  the  feet  of  your  Holiness,  I  do 
write  that  which  followeth  in  singleness  of  heart, 
being  zealous  (as  I  believe)  for  the  service  of 
God. 

There  is  a  certain  reverend  man  Gerard  Groote, 
a  Deacon  of  the  diocese  of  Utrecht,  learned  in  the 
sciences  both  liberal,  natural  and  moral,  and  also 
in  Theology  and  Canon  Law.  He  hath  long  ago 
given  over  all  his  benefices  for  God's  sake,  namely 
prebends  at  Utrecht  and  Aix,  and  also  his  patri- 
mony, which  was  no  small  one,  having  retained 
but  a  small  part  of  the  same  to  provide  him  a 
slender  sustenance.  To  him  is  the  world  crucified, 
and  he  to  the  world;  he  hath  become  a  mighty 
adversary  to  heretics,  a  zealous  upholder  of  the 
unity  of  the  Church,  and  a  fervent  preacher  in 
the  said  diocese  as  against  the  sins  of  lay  folk  and 
clerks;  yet  he  hath  not  received  or  asked  for  any 
recompense  for  his  preaching,  nor  doth  he  seek 
any  temporal  or  Ecclesiastical  Benefice,  but  he 
doth  desire  to  have  a  further  Commission  under 
the  authority  of  the  Apostolic  See  to  the  end  that 
he  may  be  able  to  preach  more  freely  and  without 
hindrance.  Wherefore  it  would  seem  expedient, 
as  I  judge,  that  your  Holiness  should  give  him 
authority  to  preach  and  to  make  inquisition  against 
heretics;  and  likewise  to  publish  the  Canonical 
decree  of  your  Holiness  granting  such  authority 
77 


THE  LIFE  OF  GERARD  THE  GREAT 

in  the  Province  of  Cologne  or  at  least  in  the  afore- 
said diocese  of  Utrecht. 

May  the  Most  High  see  fit  to  preserve  your 
Holiness  in  prosperity,  to  be  the  ruler  of  His 
Church. 

Given  at  Leyden  on  the  2 1st  day  of  October. 

The  following  epitaph  on  Gerard  is  appended 
to  A  Kempis'  Life  of  the  Master  as  edited  by 
Somalius.  It  is  uncertain  whether  A  Kempis  was 
the  author  of  the  lines,  but  from  the  title  "  Epi- 
taphium  vetus  et  inconditum "  it  would  seem 
probable  that  they  are  by  a  different  hand.  As  it 
is  impossible  to  reproduce  the  rhyme  and  metre 
of  the  original  in  a  translation,  the  Latin  text  of 
the  Epitaph  is  here  given: 

Epitaphium  vetus  et  inconditum  venerabilis 
Magistri  Gerardi  Magni 
Gerardus  Magnus  vixit  sicut  pius  agnus, 
Fecit  quod  dixit,  sicut  docuit  quoque  vixit. 
Sicut  non  fictus  aliis  mitis  sibi  strictus 
Lux  fuerat  Cleri,  tradens  huic  lumina  veri, 
Lux  fuerat  pravis,  oculus  mentis  bene  gnavis. 
Hie  Mundo  spretus,  sed  pneumate  corde  repletus 
Ejus  doctrina,  falsis  fuerat  quasi  spina 
Ridiculum  vanis,  odium  mentis  male  sanis 
Quae  falsos  lassit,  pars  veridicis  sed  adhsesit 
Illi  pro  vero,  fuit  utilis  hie  quia  clero 
Ut  clero  laicis,  prodesse  volens  inimicis, 
Doctrina  veri,  debet  Christus  misereri 
Ejus  de  jure,  pro  tali  pondere  curse. 
Talis  namque  fore,  voluit  gratis  sed  amore 
Divino  tactus,  nulla  mercede  coactus 
Namque  resignavit  praebendas  sicut  amavit 
Christum,  sic  stravit  carnem  tenues  quoque  pavit, 
De  propriisque  bonis  tenuit  regimen  rationis. 
Sic  fuit  exemplo  lux  in  Christi  bene  templo. 
Gerardus  Magnus,  quern  verus  diligit  Agnus, 
Sanctorum  sortem  tenet  evincens  modo  mortem. 
78 


THE  LIFE  OF  THE  REVERED  FLORENTIUS, 

A  DEVOUT  PRIEST,  AND  VICAR 

OF  THE  CHURCH  OF 

DEVENTER 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

PREFACE 

(i) 
OLLOWING  the  order  laid  down,  I 
do  now  think  good  to  write  certain 
things  concerning  the  life  and  char- 
acter of  Florentius,  that  Reverend 
Father  of  pious  memory,  Priest  of 
the  Church  of  Deventer,  and  once 
a  disciple  of  that  Master  Gerard  of  whom  I  have 
told  above.  This  order  in  my  history  is  fitting, 
that  having  first  shown  the  fertility  of  the  good 
tree  in  Gerard,  the  founder  of  our  Devotion,  I  should 
next  exhibit  the  sweetness  of  the  fair  flower  there- 
of in  the  godly  Florentius,  his  disciple,  for  he  was 
eminent  as  a  follower  of  the  same  Devotion  and  a 
most  fervent  promoter  of  it. 

His  humble  and  obedient  character  was  indeed 
an  herb  of  healing  for  the  drooping  soul,  and  his 
saintly  virtues  are  an  instruction  to  young  and 
old  alike. 

(2)  I  beseech  thee,  good   brother,  that  thou 

interpret  not  the  artlessness  of  my  words  to  the 

injury  of  this  illustrious  priest,  for  he  was  himself 

a  lover  of  humility  and  artlessness;  but  do  thou 

81  G 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

read  and  mark  the  good  things  that  I  shall  tell  of 
him  with  the  eyes  of  pious  deference.  Do  as  doth 
the  provident  bee  drawing  sweet  honey  from  fair 
flowers  in  some  green  meadow,  and  (for  the  edifica- 
tion of  thy  condition  and  order)  sow  the  seeds  of 
those  virtues  which  adorned  our  beloved  Father 
Florentius,  and  plant  his  example  in  the  garden 
of  thy  soul,  to  bear  as  it  were  flowers  of  roses,  and 
sweet-scented  lilies  therein.  So  shalt  thou  go  for- 
ward continually  in  virtue,  and  thine  heart  shall 
glow  yet  more  fervently  in  the  furnace  of  the  love 
of  Christ.  He  was  a  mirror  of  virtue  notable  in- 
deed, and  to  all  that  desire  to  serve  God,  one  that 
doth  help  them  to  reach  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven. 
Since  I  had  intimate  knowledge  of  him,  and  did 
oft  stand  by  and  minister  to  him,  I  am  so  much 
the  more  competent  to  speak  truly  concerning  his 
life. 

Novice 

(3)  I  pray  thee  complete  to  the  honour  of  God 
that  work  which  thou  didst  undertake  at  my  desire 
and  that  of  others;  for  it  will  be  a  joy  to  them 
that  come  after  to  hear  how  bright  were  the  stars 
which  did  shine  forth  in  our  land.  And  thou,  too, 
mayest  be  a  partaker  in  their  merits,  if  in  brotherly 
love  thou  art  willing  to  impart  to  others  that  know- 
ledge which  thou  hast  freely  received. 

The  Elder  Brother. 

(4)  The  task  which  I  approach  is  toilsome  and 
one  that  is  too  heavy  for  my  knowledge  and  my 
feeble  powers.  I  would  choose  rather  to  be  silent 
and  read  the  words  of  others,  than  to  cast  a  shadow 
upon  the  bright  fame  of  that  illustrious  man  by 
telling  thereof  in  my  homely  and  barbarous  speech. 

82 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

But  since  thou  dost  not  inquire  into  niceties  of 
style  but  rather  moral  worth  in  the  subject,  there- 
fore in  despite  of  mine  unskill  in  words  thou  must 
not  despise  my  pearls  though  the  shells  wherein 
they  are  found  be  worthless. 

I  confess  that  I  am  not  so  skilful  as  to  be  able 
to  set  forth  the  life  of  so  great  a  father;  yet  I  do 
offer  in  the  temple  of  God  goat  skins  to  cover  the 
roof  of  the  tabernacle,  for  I  have  no  precious  stones 
wherewith  to  adorn  the  vestment  of  the  priest. 
Also  it  would  seem  to  me  a  hard-hearted  and  un- 
grateful thing  if  I  should  keep  silence  as  to  the 
virtues  of  a  father  so  beloved  though  I  am  un- 
worthy to  tell  of  them,  for  in  his  life  he  was  a 
benefactor  to  me  and  to  many  others:  he  first 
launched  me  for  the  service  of  God,  and  in  the 
fulness  of  time  steered  me  to  the  haven  of  the 
monastery.  Wherefore  in  gratitude  and  for  a 
sweet  remembrance  of  him  I  in  turn  do  gladly 
repay  his  bounty,  now  he  is  gone,  by  the  finishing 
of  this  poor  work.  Let  it  be  as  some  excuse  for 
the  task  that  I  have  taken  on  me,  that  I  deeply 
love  this  reverend  Father,  and  hope  that  his 
memory  may  always  and  everywhere  flourish 
among  devout  men:  And  may  the  Lord  Jesus  who 
despised  not  the  poor  widow's  two  mites,  reward 
me,  his  poor  servant,  in  the  time  to  come,  for 
that  with  a  good  intention  I  do  put  this  labour  of 
my  hands  into  His  treasury,  leaving  higher  themes 
to  men  more  learned.  Knowing  mine  own  little- 
ness I  submit  to  the  correction  of  my  betters,  and 
I  ask  that  every  devout  mind  may  help  me  with 
prayer,  and  that  if  any  shall  draw  any  edification 
from  reading  these  writings,  he  may  praise  God 
for  all  His  gifts  and  be  grateful  even  for  the  least. 

83 


CHAPTER  I 

*€   Of  the  humility   of  Christ   which  Florentius 
studied  to  imitate 


(0 

UR  Lord  and  Master  Jesus  Christ, 
the  Flower  of  all  virtue  and  of  all 
knowledge,  began  in  humility  and 
meekness  that  rule  of  life  which 
He  handed  down  to  His  disciples  to 
be  observed  as  their  law  and  pattern, 
saying:  "  Learn  of  Me,  for  I  am  meek  and  lowly 
in  heart  and  ye  shall  find  rest  for  your  souls." 

(2)  That  devout  and  humble  priest  of  Christ, 
Master  Florentius,  the  son  of  Radewin,  followed 
after  this  virtue  of  true  humility,  which  is  the 
straightest  path  to  the  attainment  of  the  Kingdom 
of  Heaven.  This  path  he  kept  to  the  very  end  of 
his  life  through  many  a  spiritual  contest,  living 
most  strictly  in  the  continual  mortification  of  the 
flesh,  until  he  entered  into  the  rest  of  everlasting 
bliss,  to  be  rewarded  by  God  for  his  dutiful  and 
pious  labours.  But  how  he  reached  this  path  of 
humility  I  will  tell,  God  helping  me,  in  the  follow- 
ing stages  of  my  story.  The  Almighty  and  Merci- 
ful God,  Who  from  all  eternity  had  chosen  him  to 
85 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

be  consecrated  as  His  priest,  and  foreordained  that 
he  should  be  illuminated  with  the  more  excellent 
gifts;  God,  I  say,  of  His  marvellous  goodness 
snatched  him  forth  from  the  shipwreck  of  the 
world,  and  withdrew  him  therefrom ;  by  the  word 
of  Truth  He  did  effectually  regenerate  him,  to 
lead  an  holier  life  and  to  be  a  branch  yielding  new 
fruit. 


CHAPTER   II 

<•£  Of  the  interpretation  of  the  name  Florentius  and 
its  three  glorious  meanings 

0) 

ERILY  the  name  "  Florentius,  son  of 
Radewin,"  was  a  prophecy  of  his  future 
righteousness,  which  should  declare  the 
glory  of  our  Father  in  Heaven  and  make 
yet  more  bright  the  fame  of  his  own  kin.  For 
herein  is  a  laudable  thing,  if  the  life  of  a  man  be 
in  accord  with  his  name,  and  if  his  repute  be  con- 
sonant with  his  virtues:  which  thing  is  approved 
in  every  way  by  his  upright  deeds. 

Florentius  is  a  name  sweet  for  the  righteous  to 
utter  and  recall,  for  in  his  life  he  showed  himself 
such  that  he  was  held  in  the  greatest  love  and 
reverence  by  all  men,  both  the  Religious  and  those 
of  the  world. 

(2)  Well  is  he  named  Florentius,  as  one  that 
gathereth  flowers  (Flores  legens)  by  reason  of  the 
liberal  arts  which  once  he  learned  and  in  which 
he  was  so  skilled  and  proficient  that  he  had  the 
title  of  a  Master  thereof,  as  indeed  he  was — or 
again  by  reason  of  his  knowledge  of  the  divine 
law,  and  the  books  of  sacred  Theology,  which  he 
86 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

studied  (legit)  yet  more  gladly  in  preference  to 
any  other  Science,  and  loved  more  dearly  than 
all  the  treasures  of  the  world,  as  saith  the  prophet 
in  the  Psalm,  "  Therefore  have  I  loved  Thy  com- 
mandments above  gold  and  topaz." 

But  a  far  more  lovely  meaning  is  "  One  that 
holdeth  flowers  "  (Flores  tenens)  because  he  fol- 
lowed Christ  the  Flower  of  all  virtues  and  the 
Lover  of  Chastity,  for  Whose  love  Florentius  de- 
spised the  flowers  of  the  world  and  held  most 
firmly  the  integrity  of  the  faith  and  the  one  law 
of  Catholic  peace,  saying  with  the  Bride  in  the 
Song  of  Songs, "  My  Beloved  to  me  and  I  to  him, 
who  feedeth  among  the  lilies.  I  held  him  and  I 
will  not  let  him  go." 

(3)  Moreover  by  a  more  sanctified  interpreta- 
tion and  one  more  fruitful,  he  is  called  Florentius 
as  one  that  gathereth  flowers  together  (Flores 
colligens)  because  he  gathered  together  with  him 
in  his  house  many  clerks  and  brethren  who  were 
in  the  flower  of  their  age ;  and  these,  despising 
the  vanity  of  the  world,  served  the  Most  High 
God  with  humility  and  devotion,  in  chastity  of  life 
and  brotherly  love,  as  the  Holy  David  singeth  with 
joyful  voice:  "Behold!  how  good  and  how  pleasant 
it  is  for  brethren  to  dwell  together  in  unity." 
These  brethren  Florentius  ruled  with  such  a  dis- 
cipline and  taught  with  such  fervency  of  spirit 
that  his  house  was  a  school  of  heavenly  training, 
having  therein  a  mirror  of  holiness,  a  garniture 
of  moral  virtues,  a  pattern  of  goodness,  a  door  to 
admit  the  poor,  a  place  of  meeting  for  clerks,  of 
instruction  for  lay  folk,  of  refuge  for  the  devout, 
and  for  the  beginning  and  carrying  forward  of 
every  good  thing.  In  this  house  many  honourable 
and  learned  men  first  conceived  the  spirit  of  de- 
87 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

votion,  and  like  bees  laden  with  honey  went  far 
afield  from  the  full  hive  to  spread  fertility  in  divers 
places;  and  God  giving  them  His  blessing,  the 
Iruit  of  their  labours  was  not  small,  so  that  one 
may  justly  say  of  them  that  thereby  "  the  flowers 
have  appeared  in  our  land." 


CHAPTER  HI 

t  Of  the  interpretation  of  his  father* s  name 
Radewin 

(■) 

ET  it  not  seem  foolishness  if  the  sig- 
nification of  hi6  father's  name  be  mys- 
tically interpreted,  for  this  is  thought 
to  tend  in  no  small  degree  to  the  honour 
of  >o  great  a  man. 

Fitting  enough,  then,  is  the  name  of  Radewin 
as  meaning  *•  The  Divine  Radiance/'  and  by  this 
name  Christ  is  rightly  signified,  for  He  is  the 
Brightness  of  the  Father  Who  doth  illumine  the 
world  with  the  light  of  His  wisdom,  with  His  spot- 
ue  doctrine.  His  holy  miracles,  and 
His  abundant  revelation.  He  sent  forth  also  His 
apostles  like  beams  of  the  true  Sun  to  preach  His 
word  in  ail  the  world  and  give  a  good  example  to 
all  the  faithful,  saying  to  them :  "  So  let  your  light 
shine  before  men  that  thev  may  see  vour  good 
works  and  glorify  your  Father  Who  is  in  Heaven.' 
Therefore  is  Florentius  well  named  the  son 
of  Radewin,  ior  through  Christ  was  he  born  again 
to  a  livery  hope,  by  Hun  was  be  worthy  to  be 
irradiated  and  set  on  fire  that  be  might  despise 
earthly  things  and  fervently  love  the  things  of 


THE  LOT  OF  FLOKENTIUS 

tie****.    And  it  this  name  Radewtn  be  translate 
trv*n  the  Teutonic  into  the  Latin  tongue,  *  R 

-         .  and  *  win  * 

,        ,     •.    •■  i  these  tWV  »  .        ! 

u^whoy 
e** ...  ;om  and  submitted  him  > 

-  :h<  la* 

tO      '  v  ^ 

Arr    un  *d  thv    Ju^t&ratwa*  my 

cmmngL* 

lu  place  ot  those  >  am  and  earoa  «  mcfc 

the  •  fe*d  to  them  who    .  «** 

i  t  to  KWeut-u*  a  *****  rf  that  inner  *weef.  » 

And 

.A  hw  he*-  -  W 

>\     •.-..•.  My* 

tfcthe  flame  olf  the 

...  ■■•:** 

I  prophet :   *  M\  b 
,  fcsh  ha>  I  m  the 

1>  ...  .*»hw** 

and  be---.  »p  m  the  S 

otfered  h      -  •      .    *    .  ****  *>** 

suppivatie*  tor  Holy  Cm  ^hrwmn 

In  ■.        - 

.»rth  tVen-. 

>  ..■ 

s 

-pin  the- 
*H  -  th*  multitude  •$  1  ***» 

rtatt  h**t  hidden  mt  them  thai 

tU^nx  M*  thmy*  by  wax  or  preface. 


l\  pe 


J 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 


CHAPTER  IV 

#£  Of  his  native  land,  and  how  he  went  to  study  at 
Prague 

HIS  revered  father  and  devout  priest  of 
Christ,  Master  Florentius,  was  Vicar 
of  Deventer,  having  been  converted  by 
the  preaching  of  the  venerable  Gerard 
Groote,  the  grace  of  God  working  therewith. 
Having  been  his  humble  hearer,  Florentius  studied 
to  imitate  Gerard  in  all  things,  and  receiving  his 
wholesome  counsels  with  gratitude,  loved  him  as 
his  dearest  father,  the  begetter  of  his  salvation, 
always  and  everywhere  paying  him  the  greatest 
reverence  as  was  fitting.  Therefore  he  deserved 
to  be  loved  in  turn  by  Gerard  even  more  than 
were  the  other  disciples,  and  to  be  commended 
above  the  rest  for  the  special  beauty  and  modesty 
of  his  character,  for  with  these  qualities  he  was 
eminently  endowed  and  shone  therewith  in  the 
Religious  life. 

(2)  He  was  born  in  the  city  of  Leerdam,  in  the 
territory  of  the  noble  Count  de  Erkell;  this  city 
is  situated  near  the  boundary  of  Holland  and  about 
three  miles  from  Utrecht.  His  father,  Radewin,  was 
well  known  by  repute  amongst  those  of  his  time; 
and  being  sufficiently  endowed  with  goods  and 
substance,  considering  the  needs  of  his  condition 
in  life,  he  gave  his  fatherly  consent  and  assistance 
to  his  son  Florentius  when  the  latter  was  setting 
forth  to  study  at  Prague.  At  this  time  the  privi- 
leged University  of  Prague  in  Bohemia  was  in  a 
most  flourishing  state,  and  many  men  went  more 
90 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

eagerly  thither  from  the  Low  Countries.  He  soon 
became  a  good  scholar,  for  he  was  brilliant  in 
understanding  and  eager  to  go  forward  in  know- 
ledge,and  in  like  manner  he  was  noted  amongst  the 
students  for  kindness  to  his  intimates  and  rever- 
ence toward  his  teacher.  Afterward  he  returned 
to  his  own  country  and  his  kindred,  and  having 
gained  his  Master's  Degree  was  received  with 
honour. 

(3)  All  his  friends  and  neighbours  rejoiced  to- 
gether exceedingly;  for  the  pleasure  of  his  pre- 
sence, his  health,  and  prosperity  was  rightfully  a 
joy  and  consolation  to  them  after  his  absence  in 
lands  so  distant,  and  the  perils  through  which 
God  had  suffered  him  to  pass.  But  if  his  return 
in  due  time  from  the  University  of  Prague,  and 
his  studies,  gave  great  delight  to  his  friends,  yet 
since  God  ordained  that  something  even  better 
should  follow,  this  return  was  the  happy  prepara- 
tion for  his  eternal  well-being,  for  after  the  lapse 
of  no  great  while  he  became  a  true  disciple  of 
Christ  instead  of  a  Master  of  Arts.  During  his 
homeward  journey  from  Prague  our  good  Lord 
showed  him  a  marvellous  thing  and  one  wherein 
His  Mercy  was  clearly  manifest;  for  when  he  had 
reached  a  deep  valley  a  chariot  followed  behind 
him  dashing  down  from  the  mountain  with  great 
speed;  and  as  he  could  not  turn  aside  from  it, 
and  was  in  fear  of  bodily  peril,  he  threw  himself 
upon  the  help  of  God,  for  there  was  no  help  from 
man.  When  he  had  called  upon  the  Almighty, 
the  immeasurable  tenderness  of  our  Saviour  was 
present  with  him ;  for  wonderful  to  relate,  as  soon 
as  he  had  called  upon  the  Lord,  he  saw  that 
chariot  in  front  of  him  upon  the  road  on  which 
he  was  travelling,  and  all  danger  was  at  an  end. 
91 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

This  whole  matter  he  ascribed  to  a  miracle  wrought 
on  his  behalf  by  God  Who  healeth  them  that  are 
troubled  in  heart,  and  doth  free  them  that  call 
upon  Him  from  every  strait. 


CHAPTER  V 
<t£  Of  his  honourable  character  in  the  world 

(i) 

E  was  eminent  for  his  honourable  char- 
acter, his  cheerfulness  amongst  his 
comrades,  his  kindliness  in  word  and 
generosity  in  spending.  He  was  comely 
to  look  upon,  of  graceful  figure  and  of  moderate 
height.  For  a  certain  time  God  allowed  him  to 
mingle  in  the  world,  and  learn  by  experience  the 
deceitful  madness  thereof,  but  not  to  abide  the 
hazard  all  the  days  of  his  life;  so  that  no  one 
whose  desire  was  to  be  converted  might  despair 
of  pardon,  seeing  that  a  change  to  better  things 
had  been  wrought  in  this  Florentius  in  so  short  a 
time. 

(2)  It  happened  upon  a  time  that  he  was  in- 
vited with  many  others  to  a  marriage,  and  when 
they  were  upon  the  way  together,  being  most 
eager  to  pleasure  his  friends  and  to  make  merry 
with  them,  he  did  as  follows  for  their  gratifica- 
tion: cutting  down  green  branches  from  the  trees 
he  took  them  and  embowered  those  who  sat  in 
the  carriage  in  suchwise  as  greatly  to  win  their 
favour.  For  he  knew  not  yet  what  the  Lord  should 
do  concerning  him,  nor  thought  with  what  care 
he,  in  company  with  the  devout  Virgins,  must  in- 
wardly adorn  his  conscience  so  as  to  be  worthy 
92 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

to  be  called  to  an  heavenly  marriage;  nor  did  he 
know  of  that  celestial  feast  at  the  Marriage  of 
Christ,  wherefore  he  rejoiced  to  take  part  in 
earthly  festivities.  But  through  the  Mercy  of  God 
he  abode  not  long  in  this  vanity,  for  receiving  the 
blessed  call,  he  attained  to  that  mighty  grace  of 
devotion  which  surpasseth  all  worldly  delight. 

(3)  But  this  worldly  act  of  his  did  foreshadow 
that  good  thing  which  should  come  to  him,  namely, 
that  when  by  the  grace  of  God  he  was  converted 
into  a  spiritually  minded  man  he  should  call  many 
of  his  fellow  guests  to  that  marriage  Feast  among 
the  citizens  of  Heaven,  which  the  Immortal  Bride- 
groom Jesus  Christ  doth  celebrate  with  all  the 
Saints  for  ever  and  ever.  In  after  days  this  was 
most  clearly  made  manifest  by  the  many  brethren 
whom  he  turned  to  the  devout  life,  as  I  have  seen 
evidently  with  mine  own  eyes,  and  as  all  Deventer 
doth  know. 


CHAPTER  VI 

<t€  Of  bis  conversion  through  the  preaching  of 
Master  Gerard 

(•) 

HE  tender  care  of  our  Saviour  was  not 
lacking  to  succour  this  wandering  lamb 
who  was  straying  in  great  peril  amid 
£2J  the  mists  of  worldly  fame.  Therefore 
when  the  time  for  showing  mercy  to  him  was 
come,  the  Good  Shepherd  of  Souls  carefully  with- 
drew the  Sheep  which  He  had  dearly  bought  at 
the  price  of  His  own  Blood  from  the  snares  that 
encompassed  him,  and  pitifully  led  him  into  the 
Fold  of  that  Holy  Flock  over  which  he  should  rule. 
93 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

When  the  venerable  Master  Gerard  Groote  was 
preaching  the  Gospel  of  Christ  throughout  the 
Diocese  of  Utrecht,  many  Clerks  and  lay  folk, 
having  heard  the  Word  of  God,  deserted  the 
vanities  of  the  world,  being  anxious  to  avoid  the 
punishment  of  Eternal  fire,  and  by  penitence  and 
sorrow  to  gain  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven;  for  the 
voice  of  the  Master  as  he  preached  was  a  living 
power  which  did  so  much  the  more  prevail  over 
the  hearts  of  his  hearers  in  that  he  himself  was 
before  all  other  men  upon  the  path  of  virtue.  So 
that  his  holy  life  showing  itself  in  deeds  gave 
confirmation  to  his  words. 

(2)  At  that  time,  therefore,  when  Gerard  was 
preaching  to  large  congregations  in  the  Church 
of  S.  Mary  at  Deventer,  Master  Florentius  came 
also,  eagerly  listening  for  what  he  should  say; 
and  being  outwardly  instructed  in  wisdom  through 
the  light  of  this  heavenly  discourse,  he  was  pricked 
to  the  heart,  and  soon  became  enlightened  in- 
wardly. For  the  great  preacher  was  wont  to  turn 
his  eyes  from  time  to  time  upon  those  that  stood 
by,  and  to  frame  his  discourse  with  regard  to  the 
depth  and  extent  thereof  to  suit  the  quality  and 
need  of  his  hearers,  gauging  these  by  the  zeal 
which  they  displayed;  just  so  do  eager  fishers 
spread  their  net  most  widely  where  they  deem 
that  most  fishes  have  congregated. 

So  it  happened  by  the  inspiration  of  God  that 
Master  Florentius,  who  was  then  endowed  with 
all  the  grace  of  youth  and  sufficiently  provided 
with  all  things  necessary,  gladly  heard  the  Word 
of  the  Lord.  He  stopped  not  his  ears  nor  turned 
aside  from  the  music  of  that  Heavenly  Flute,  but 
to  his  own  profit  he  took  to  himself  those  words 
which  proceeded  forth  from  the  mouth  of  the 
94 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

great  preacher  for  the  good  of  all  and  sundry. 
Therefore  was  he  numbered  amongst  those  Sheep 
of  whom  our  Saviour  said:  "  My  sheep  hear  my 
voice,  and  I  know  them  and  they  follow  me." 


CHAPTER  VII 

«•€  How  he  despised  the  life  of  the  world  and  joined 
himself  to  Master  Gerard 

(0 

ASTER  FLORENTIUS,  therefore,  being 
breathed  upon  by  the  Spirit  of  God  and 
inwardly  besprinkled  with  heavenly 
dew,  suddenly  withdrew  his  idle  feet 
which  he  had  at  first  planted  upon  the  way  of  this 
present  world. 

He  prudently  considered  that  to  the  short-lived 
gratification  of  the  flesh  there  should  surely  suc- 
ceed death  the  ruthless,  and  grief  eternal.  He 
resolved,  therefore,  to  despise  the  deceitful  honours 
of  the  world,  and  to  his  own  exceeding  gain  thought 
good  to  follow  the  lowly  life  of  Christ,  that  he 
might  not  lose  his  part  in  that  home-land  of  the 
angels  which  is  fair  with  flowers.  Wishing  then 
to  converse  more  intimately  with  Master  Gerard, 
whom  he  saw  to  be  zealous  toward  all  men  for 
their  soul's  health,  he  delayed  not  to  approach 
confidently  his  reverend  presence,  and  to  set  in 
order  before  him  his  inmost  thoughts;  for  he 
looked  upon  Gerard  as  the  friend  and  steward  of 
God. 

(2)  When  he  came  Gerard  received  him  gladly, 
and   opening  a    loving  heart   to  Florentius   held 
converse  with  him  as  he  desired,  being  ready  to 
95 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

reason  with  him  of  any  matter  concerning  which 
he  would  inquire. 

Coming  together  they  held  sweet  converse  upon 
the  things  that  pertain  to  salvation;  the  heart  of 
each  burned  with  an  heavenly  flame;  the  things 
of  earth  were  of  none  account,  but  their  good  pur- 
pose to  hold  to  the  service  of  God  was  confirmed. 
For  setting  an  holy  life  before  them,  and  being 
zealous  to  keep  citizenship  in  the  country  of  the 
Lord,  they  were  made  thenceforward  of  one  mind 
in  the  love  of  the  Brotherhood.  And  the  manifold 
grace  of  Christ  was  present  with  them  so  that 
they  were  profitable  to  salvation  not  only  for  them- 
selves but  also  for  their  neighbours:  for  certain 
learned  men  and  eloquent  preachers  were  added 
to  them,  for  their  comfort  and  fuller  joy  and  for 
the  adornment  of  the  House  of  our  God.  These 
burning  fiercely  with  that  flame  which  is  the  gift 
of  the  Holy  Spirit,  chose  to  walk  closely  in  she 
footprints  of  Christ:  to  despise  the  world,  to  wage 
bold  warfare  against  sin,  and  so  to  pass  to  eternal 
good. 


CHAPTER  VIII 

(t€  How  Florentius  himself,  now  fully  converted, 
did  convert  many  others 

(»> 

ND  as  that  most  soft  South  wind  of  the 
Love  Divine  breathed  yet  more   con- 
stantly upon  the  garden  of  his  heart, 
and  watered  it  with  tears,  he  began  to 
be  very  fruitful  in  devotion,  and  to  be  moved  with 
pious  zeal  to  draw  others  from  the  defilements  of 
sin.    He  therefore  made  it  his  care  that  in  place 
96 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

of  those  whose  worldly  companionship  he  had 
formerly  loved  when  occupied  with  profane  study, 
he  should  now  have  Spiritual  Brothers  ;  for  he 
desired  that  others  also  should  be  enkindled  by 
that  flame  by  which  he  himself  was  set  on  fire, 
and  illumined  by  that  light  by  which  he  was  en- 
lightened of  God:  and  he  was  not  backward  in 
directing  those  who  came  to  him  both  by  words 
and  the  light  of  his  example.  Therefore  he  per- 
suaded Clerks  and  lay  folk  who  desire  to  serve 
God  to  flee  from  commerce  with  evil,  to  hasten  to 
hear  the  Word  of  God,  to  follow  after  the  lowli- 
ness of  Christ,  and  to  set  the  life  of  the  Saints  as 
the  pattern  before  their  eyes,  seeing  that  through 
the  grace  of  chastity  and  the  observance  of  the 
precepts  of  the  Lord  they  might  gain  an  ever- 
lasting recompense. 

(2)  Nor  was  that  labour  profitless  which  he  ex- 
pended to  gain  souls,  but  an  abundant  increase 
grew  therefrom,  for  many  young  men  and  maidens, 
relying  on  his  wholesome  counsels,  leaving  parents 
and  friends,  began  to  walk  in  the  paths  of  humility 
and  devotion,  and  hating  the  life  of  the  world  to 
associate  themselves  together  in  Christ  after  the 
Apostolic  manner;  and  they  rejoiced  with  eager 
hearts  to  keep  a  Common  table,  and  to  have  meagre 
sustenance.  Lastly  he  exhorted  them  severally  to 
go  forward  in  the  steps  of  virtue,  to  pray  more 
often;  to  labour  with  their  hands  in  due  season; 
to  be  instant  in  reading  holy  books,  and  in  earnest 
meditation;  for  by  these  one  shall  gain  increase 
of  fervour  in  devotion,  and  shall  have  that  ever- 
present  dread  of  the  occasions  of  sin  that  doth 
guard  a  man,  that  he  be  not  seduced  of  the  devil 
through  the  idleness  of  his  heart. 


97 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 


CHAPTER  IX 

(¥Z  Of  the  burdens  that  he  bore,  and  the  wrongs 
that  he  suffered 

<■) 

HAT  old  enemy  of  mankind,  the  Devil, 
perceiving  these  exercises  in  the  spir- 
itual warfare,  was  sorely  hurt,  and 
omitted  not  to  persecute  the  devout 
Master,  being  jealous  of  this  good  beginning  and 
of  his  pious  deeds — for  Satan  feared  that  through 
the  example  and  industrious  preaching  of  Flor- 
entius  the  spoils  of  many  souls  would  be  taken 
from  him ;  therefore  he  stirred  up  certain  adver- 
saries to  impugn  the  simple  life  of  this  just  man 
with  harsh  words  and  derision,  as  is  the  wont  of 
such  men  to  use,  hoping  to  withdraw  him  from 
the  good  course  which  he  had  begun.  But  Flor- 
entius,  being  a  man  of  gentle  mind  and  well  dis- 
posed to  bear  reproach  for  Christ's  sake,  was 
moved  neither  by  evil  report  nor  by  the  lies  of 
them  that  would  belittle  him,  for  these  things 
weighed  lightly  upon  him  as  spider's  webs,  so 
that  he  continued  constant  in  his  good  under- 
taking. He  walked  meekly  among  the  perverse, 
and  patiently  amid  slanderers,  returning  to  no 
man  evil  for  evil,  but  with  a  quiet  heart  he  said 
his  prayers,  and  either  held  his  peace,  or  bridled 
the  mouth  of  foolish  men  with  some  reasonable 
word.  Fools  railed  against  that  which  they  did 
not  comprehend,  and  one  who  walked  humbly  and 
avoided  every  vanity  seemed  to  their  froward  un- 
derstanding to  be  distraught. 

(2)  But  with  modest  aspect,  like  some  flower 
98 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

of  the  field,  Florentius  went  forth  clad  in  a  gray 
habit  covered  by  a  long  cloak;  and  as  some  lily 
may  grow  among  thorns  and  give  forth  her  sweet 
odour  when  torn  thereby,  so  was  Florentius  among 
his  mockers;  when  derided  he  became  yet  more 
cheerful  and  made  the  sweet  odour  of  his  fame 
yet  sweeter  and  more  widely  diffused  by  the  pa- 
tience which  he  showed.  The  Lord  put  upon  him 
the  breastplate  of  faith,  and  armed  His  warrior 
with  the  virtue  of  perseverance  so  that  the  wan- 
tonness of  men  might  not  prevail  to  overturn 
his  stable  mind,  which  the  Grace  of  God  had 
strengthened  within  him;  for  he  was  zealous  to 
suffer  shame  and  threatenings  for  the  Name  of 
Jesus,  knowing  that  which  is  written;  "Blessed 
are  ye  when  men  shall  speak  evil  of  you  and  re- 
proach your  name  as  evil  for  the  Son  of  Man's 
Sake."  Therefore  he  waited  diligently  upon  the 
Author  of  Life,  Jesus  the  Son  of  God,  Whom  the 
Pharisees  called  a  Samaritan  and  a  deceiver; 
Who  warned  His  disciples  beforehand  that  they 
must  suffer  much  enmity  from  worldlings,  for  that 
He  himself  before  them  suffered  yet  more  bitter 
things  from  the  envious  Jews,  "For,"  saith  He, 
"  if  they  have  persecuted  Me,  they  shall  also  per- 
secute you";  "The  servant  is  not  greater  than 
his  lord.  If  they  have  called  the  good  man  of  the 
house  Beelzebub,  how  much  more  them  of  his 
household?  " 

By  these  holy  words  he  was  mightily  comforted, 
and  cared  not  for  the  mockings  of  men,  nor  turned 
aside  from  the  true  path  of  humility  which  the 
truth  doth  teach,  but  through  his  contempt  of  the 
world  and  self-denial  he  strove  to  climb  to  the  very 
heights  of  virtue.  He  chose  rather  to  be  called 
an  outcast  Lollard  with  his  Brothers,  or  to  be 
99 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

thought  a  madman  by  worldlings,  than  to  be  re- 
puted a  great  lord  and  master.  Therefore  so  far 
as  in  him  lay  he  put  aside  the  honourable  title  of 
Master,  and  desired  to  be  called  by  his  name  only, 
as  did  also  the  other  Brothers,  though  some  of 
these  were  sufficiently  learned  and  sprung  from 
the  wealthier  families  in  the  world.  He  would 
have  nothing  costly  or  beautiful  by  way  of  apparel, 
he  desired  nothing  delicate  for  his  food,  he  allowed 
only  those  things  necessary  for  use,  but  nothing 
superfluous;  naught  save  those  somewhat  simple 
and  unadorned  things  which  tend  to  lowliness  and 
are  no  offence  to  worldlings — for  these  latter  are 
taught  better  by  an  example  of  lowliness  than  by 
subtle  arguments.  Therefore  by  following  the 
Common  Life,  and  showing  brotherly  love  to  all ; 
by  being  not  highminded  but  condescending  to 
things  of  low  estate,  he  was  now  esteemed  as  a 
loving  father  and  not  feared  as  an  austere  master; 
for  the  outward  signs  of  an  honest  character  and 
the  inward  virtue  of  heavenly  purity  were  seen 
reflected  in  him  as  in  the  brightest  mirror. 


CHAPTER  X 

it€  Of  his  promotion  to  the  priesthood  and  the 
abasement  of  his  humility 

(') 

UT  since  the  humble  do  deservedly  gain 
repute,  and  just  praise  is  befitting  to  the 
meek,  they  who  formerly  were  used  to 
oppose  the  man  of  God  did  withhold 
their  tongues  from  their  unjust  enmity,  for  they 
saw  the  constancy  of  his  mind,  and  that  his  re- 
solve in  the  Lord  was  firm. 
100 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

Wherefore  being  converted  to  a  dutiful  regard 
for  Florentius  they  began  to  commend  the  holi- 
ness of  his  life  and  to  reverence  him  for  the  mod- 
esty of  his  garb  and  discipline,  and  also  to  love 
the  devout  zeal  of  his  Brothers,  which  was  founded 
upon  the  lowliness  of  Christ.  And  this  indeed 
justly,  for  it  was  meet  and  right  that  one  upon 
whom  the  Grace  of  God  was  poured  out,  making 
him  blossom  with  many  virtues,  should  be  loved 
and  extolled  by  all  men.  As  the  fame  of  his  good- 
ness increased,  many  clerks  and  lay  folk  came  to- 
gether in  crowds  to  his  house  to  hear  the  Word 
of  God,  and  some  of  the  Councillors  and  leaders 
of  the  State  came  to  him  for  counsel,  inasmuch 
as  there  was  found  in  him  the  Wisdom  of  God, 
and  in  proportion  to  the  greater  virtue  of  his  mind, 
a  faith  also  greater  than  their  own.  Wherefore 
they  heard  him  gladly  and  committed  their  con- 
sciences to  him  the  more  confidently  in  difficult 
and  dark  matters;  and  having  listened  to  his 
words  they  did  many  good  deeds  that  were  pleas- 
ing to  God. 

(2)  So  the  humble  Master,  filled  with  Charity, 
rejoiced  over  this  harvest  of  souls  and  the  spiritual 
progress  of  his  Brethren,  and  was  very  careful  for 
the  needs  of  poor  clerks,  paying  reverence  to 
Christ  the  Lord  in  them.  But  the  venerable 
Master  Gerard,  seeing  that  his  beloved  disciple 
Florentius  was  adorned  with  special  gifts  of  de- 
votion, determined  that  he  should  be  promoted  to 
the  Priesthood,  being  moved  thereunto  by  the  in- 
spiration of  the  Holy  Spirit  and  urged  by  the 
prayers  of  many  Brethren.  But  Florentius,  pro- 
testing that  he  was  unworthy  of  so  great  an 
honour,  humbly  sought  to  be  relieved  of  this  bur- 
den; yet  he  was  overborne  by  the  insistence  of 
101 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

the  Brethren,  and  at  length  not  daring  to  resist 
the  monitions  of  Gerard  he  gave  that  assent  to 
which  the  duty  of  obedience  compelled  him.  But 
when  he  became  a  Priest  he  was  not  puffed  up 
with  human  pride  but  was  found  to  be  so  much 
the  more  humble  in  every  deed,  and  in  his  garb, 
in  proportion  as  he  became  greater  in  dignity  and 
rank.  Master  Gerard  has  borne  this  witness  ot 
him,  saying:  "  Once  only  did  I  cause  a  man  to  be 
ordained  to  the  priesthood  and  I  believe  that  he  is 
worthy.  In  future  I  will  be  cautious  not  to  do 
such  a  thing  lightly,  for  I  perceive  that  few  are 
fit  for  such  a  calling." 

Yet  Florentius,  as  one  that  in  his  own  eyes  was 
truly  small  and  of  no  worth,  had  no  high  thoughts 
of  himself  for  his  Ordination  as  a  Priest;  but  in 
his  heart  he  preferred  the  lower  Brethren  before 
himself,  and  spoke  thus  of  a  certain  simple  Clerk 
who  was  not  yet  admitted  to  the  holy  office: 
"  Would  that  I  could  offer  before  the  Judgement 
Seat  of  God  the  pen  of  that  Clerk  rather  than  the 
Chalice  of  my  Priesthood." 


CHAPTER  XI 

<t£  How  seldom  be  went  out,  and  of  his  instructive 
demeanour  as  he  stood  in  the  Choir 

(») 

Y   his   good  and  honourable  character 

Florentius, the  Lord's  man,  might  easily 

be   recognized  by  ignorant  men    and 

worldlings  as  one  that  was  devout  and 

the  friend  of  God,  and  worthy  to  be  the  Vicar  of 

Jesus  Christ.    At   first   therefore   he  was  made 

102 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

Canon  of  St.  Peter's  Church  in  Utrecht,  but  re- 
signing this  prebend  he  accepted  a  Cure  in  De- 
venter,  that  he  might  be  near  Master  Gerard  and 
be  instructed  by  his  example  and  doctrine ;  where- 
fore he  once  said  to  a  friend,  "  I  hope  that  I  shall 
not  be  a  Canon  all  my  life,  but  serve  God  in  some 
lower  station,"  and  thus  it  came  to  pass  to  the 
eternal  glory  of  God;  for  though  he  was  held  in 
great  reverence  for  his  holiness  and  abstinence, 
yet  he  utterly  avoided  honour  from  men,  and  for 
this  cause  refused  to  go  out  into  public  places  and 
thought  it  his  sole  comfort  to  abide  at  home  with 
his  Brethren,  for  he  knew  that  thereby  he  would 
make  more  progress  himself  and  that  his  conduct 
would  be  an  example  of  stability  of  purpose  to 
others.  And  when  he  did  go  out  into  the  streets 
he  walked  quickly,  nowhere  engaging  in  much 
talk;  but  saluting  any  acquaintance  who  met 
him  with  some  brief  word  or  an  inclination  of  the 
head  only;  moreover,  he  paid  so  little  heed  to  any 
outward  manifestations  of  respect  toward  himself 
that  often  he  did  not  notice  those  who  met  him, 
nor  care  to  inquire  whither  they  were  going;  but 
as  he  went  to  the  Church  he  would  pray  or  medi- 
tate of  God  as  the  Holy  Spirit  moved  him. 

(2)  But  owing  to  his  great  bodily  weakness  and 
the  oft  infirmities  which  fell  upon  him  by  reason 
of  his  excessive  abstinence  in  the  first  fervour  of 
his  devotion,  he  could  not  go  daily  into  the  £hoir; 
yet  on  all  great  festivals,  and  on  the  anniversaries 
of  Saints  he  rejoiced  to  attend  Vespers  so  often  as 
his  health  allowed,  and  to  be  present  at  High 
Mass.  And  though  he  was  the  senior  Vicar  in 
Deventer  he  always  took  his  place  on  the  left  side 
of  the  Choir  in  the  lower  stall,  although  he  was 
entitled  to  the  highest  seat  next  to  the  Canons. 
103 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

As  he  stood  in  the  Choir  he  did  not  gaze  about 
with  wandering  eyes,  but  stood  very  quietly  turn- 
ing towards  the  Altar,  with  all  restraint  and  re- 
verence. Being  devoutly  intent  upon  God  and  his 
own  soul,  he  sang  the  Psalms  so  far  as  his  weak- 
ness allowed  in  a  low  tone,  observing  the  musical 
directions.  He  was  so  reverent  and  his  aspect  was 
so  devout  that  many  boys  and  chanters  often  gazed 
at  him  and  admired  his  religious  fervour,  since  no 
light-mindedness,  for  which  he  might  be  blamed, 
could  be  seen  in  any  word  or  gesture.  At  that 
time  I  used  to  go  into  the  Choir  with  the  other 
scholars  as  I  was  ordered  to  do  by  Master  John 
Boheme,  who  ruled  the  Scholars  and  Choristers 
strictly.  And  as  often  as  I  saw  my  Master  Flor- 
entius  standing  there — though  he  did  not  look 
round — I  was  careful  not  to  chatter,  for  I  was  awed 
by  his  presence  because  of  the  reverence  of  his 
posture. 

(3)  Once  on  a  time  it  happened  when  I  was 
standing  near  him  in  the  Choir  that  he  turned  to 
share  our  book  for  the  chanting,  and  he,  standing 
behind  me,  put  his  hands  upon  my  shoulder — but 
I  stood  still,  hardly  daring  to  move,  bewildered 
with  gratification  at  so  great  an  honour.  There 
were  then  in  the  Chapter  of  Deventer  divers 
Canons  and  Vicars  who  were  learned  and  men  of 
approved  life,  strict  and  eager  to  perform  the 
Diving  Offices  with  all  due  honour;  these  held 
Master  Florentius,  that  man  of  God,  in  reverence 
and  deserved  esteem,  and  when  he  was  present, 
the  more  anxiously  restrained  all  extravagance 
and  levity;  and  the  whole  Choir  was  enlightened 
by  the  instructive  demeanour  of  this  great  priest. 


104 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

CHAPTER  XII 
&e  Of  the  simplicity  of  his  garb 

co  . 

HE  good  Florentius,  being  a  lover  of 
simplicity  and  lowliness,  knew  that  an 
ornate  attire  doth  not  make  the  Priest, 
but  rather  lowliness  of  heart  and 
righteousness  of  character,  and  therefore  put  away 
from  him  all  adornment  in  attire  and  everything 
that  pertained  to  the  pomps  of  the  world  and  os- 
tentation before  men,  so  as  to  preserve  the  better 
his  purity  of  conscience.  So  after  that  he  was 
made  a  priest  he  sought  not  softer  clothing  as 
being  more  appropriate  to  himself  than  to  others, 
but  was  contented  with  the  Common  and  simple 
garb  like  the  rest  of  the  Brothers,  and  this  he  did 
that  the  outer  garb  might  answer  to  the  inner 
man.  For  having  God  ever  before  his  eyes,  he 
did  not  love  that  adornment  and  care  for  the  body 
which  passeth  away,  but  kept  his  eye  open  to  see 
the  virtues  of  the  soul. 

(2)  Yet  he  was  careful  not  to  give  the  least 
occasion  of  offence  to  the  weak,  either  by  his  garb, 
or  by  anything  that  is  a  necessity  of  nature, 
choosing  according  to  Christ's  example  that  which 
is  more  proper  to  lowliness  and  in  less  esteem 
amongst  men.  Therefore  he  did  not  wear  one  gar- 
ment on  festivals  and  another  on  ordinary  days, 
but  only  a  more  highly  ornamented  vestment  at 
the  Celebration  of  Mass  on  Feast  Days  for  his 
reverence  to  the  Sacrament,  and  in  this  he  kept 
within  the  bounds  of  due  decency. 

The  almuce  that  he  wore  was  somewhat  old  and 
105 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

faded,  and  was  in  many  places  moth-eaten  and 
threadbare.  When  I  saw  him  come  across  to  the 
Choir  in  such  a  garment  I  was  grieved  that  a 
priest  so  good  and  honourable  should  go  about  in 
such  mean  and  lowly  garments.  He  did  not  wear 
elegant  sandals  like  other  Vicars  in  the  Church, 
but  in  place  thereof  low  and  coarse  wooden  shoes, 
soled  with  old  leather,  which  made  no  clatter  as 
he  entered  the  Choir.  His  cloak  and  robe  were  of 
grey  cloth,  for  though  his  uncle  who  loved  him 
had  given  him  a  new  robe,  he  would  not  wear 
it  because  it  seemed  too  honourable,  and  he  ever 
preferred  simple  things  to  costly.  His  hood  was 
black,  or  dark  in  colour,  and  so  worn  as  to  cover 
both  shoulders  and  the  bare  part  of  the  neck,  for 
so  it  was  made  for  him.  He  wore  scanty  sleeves 
tied  back  with  but  few  strings,  the  hinder  parts 
were  patched  from  time  to  time  with  new  cloth 
as  they  wore  through  with  age,  for  this  humble 
priest  of  God  did  not  blush  to  wear  an  ancient 
garment  patched  by  the  tailor,  and  indeed  he  and 
all  his  Brothers  contended  in  holy  rivalry  which 
should  wear  the  meaner  garments,  and  each 
strove  to  surpass  the  other  in  this  regard. 

(3)  On  one  occasion,  when  a  Secular  Priest 
was  present,  Florentius  was  discoursing  devoutly 
of  God,  and  his  hearer  standing  near  him  was 
busied  with  the  beautiful  and  curiously  em- 
broidered sleeves  which  he  wore,  turning  his 
hands  now  in  this  direction  now  in  that  and 
Florentius  looking  kindly  at  him  said:  "My 
brother,  see  what  sort  of  sleeves  I  wear,  they  do 
not  occupy  my  mind  nor  disquiet  me.  To  wear 
such  long  ones  as  thou  dost  would  be  a  weariness 
and  a  burden  to  me."  Hearing  this,  and  blushing 
somewhat,  the  other  stood  more  quietly  and  tak- 
106 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

ing  the  saying  in  good  part,  went  away  edified, 
being  instructed  in  simplicity  of  attire  by  the 
example  of  Florentius. 

(4)  At  another  time  he  called  to  him  the  tailor 
who  was  to  make  him  a  new  cloak,  and  said: 
"  Sir,  do  you  know  how  to  make  a  mean  gar- 
ment?" and  he  answered :  "  I  know  not  that  I  can 
do  so,  but  tell  me,  Sir,  what  sort  of  garment  thou 
dost  desire?  "  Then  said  the  humble  Master  Flor- 
entius to  the  tailor :  "  Make  of  that  cloth  four 
parts,  and  sew  them  together  without  folds  that  I 
may  put  on  or  take  off  the  garment  easily;  so 
made  it  will  be  good  enough  for  me."  To  this  the 
tailor  wondering  much  replied:  "O  my  beloved 
Master,  how  can  this  be?  How  can  I  wilfully  de- 
stroy a  good  piece  of  cloth?  I  will  make  it  well  as 
is  more  suitable."  Then  said  the  meek  and  lowly 
priest:  "Why  should  one  take  care  for  the  adorning 
of  the  outward  man?  For  the  love  of  God  make  it 
in  the  simplest  way  thou  canst;  for  so  is  it  more 
pleasing  to  me ;  since  it  is  fitting  that  I  should  have 
simple  garments  for  the  edification  of  others." 

O  noble  Priest  of  Christ!  who  wert  ever  in- 
clined to  lowliness,  who  the  better  to  please  God 
didst  put  away  all  delicate  living  from  thee ! 


CHAPTER  XIII 

#£  Of  bis  humble  service  among  the  Brothers 

(0 

HRIST,  the  Light  of  the  World,  came 

into  the  world  to  enlighten  the  minds 

of  the  faithful  by  preaching  the  Word 

of  Heavenly  Life,  and  it  was  chiefly  by 

the  example  of  His  humility  that  He  did  kindle 

107 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

the  sullen  hearts  of  sinners  to  love  His  Name; 
and  He  left  this  example  as  a  pattern  to  all  the 
faithful  throughout  the  earth.  For  Christ  so  bore 
Himself  among  His  disciples  as  if  He  were  one  of 
them,  showing  them  the  ministry  of  love  and  not 
exercising  the  lordship  of  power,  so  that  if  any  is 
willing  to  imitate  Him,  the  same  is  worthy  to  be 
honoured  by  Him,  and  to  be  made  a  ruler  of  all 
good  things  in  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven:  for  He 
saith:  "I  am  in  the  midst  of  you  as  He  that 
serveth,"  and  again:  "  The  Son  of  Man  is  not  come 
to  be  ministered  unto  but  to  minister  and  to  give 
His  life  to  many."  This  rule  of  holy  servitude 
Florentius  that  humble  servant  of  Christ  was 
zealous  to  follow  with  the  Brothers,  persuading 
all  that  clave  to  him  of  whatever  age  they  might 
be  to  take  their  turn  of  servile  work  in  love  and 
in  turn  to  bear  the  common  burden,  to  shrink 
from  no  menial  task,  but  gladly  to  occupy  them- 
selves with  humble  service,  embracing  the  more 
eagerly  those  tasks  which  are  deemed  less  honour- 
able and  are  harder  and  more  toilsome. 

(2)  So  there  grew  up  amongst  them  this  holy 
custom,  and  approved  virtue,  that  every  one  of 
the  Brothers  should  do  service  for  a  week  in  the 
kitchen,  and  should  there  cook  with  all  humility, 
or  promptly  and  cheerfully  fulfill  the  injunctions 
of  the  cook.  For  at  that  time  all  were  ardent  to 
perform  the  less  honourable  tasks,  inasmuch  as 
to  labour  with  their  hands  for  the  Kingdom  of  God 
was  thought  to  be  a  pleasant  recreation.  So  Flor- 
entius, the  good  Father  and  kindly  Master,  wish- 
ing to  set  a  good  example  before  those  whom  he 
ruled,  himself  took  his  turn  in  the  kitchen  as  far 
as  he  could,  and  when  a  neighbour,  moved  by 
compassion,  said  to  him:  "Why,  good  Sir,  dost 
108 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

thou  occupy  thyself  in  the  kitchen?  Hast  thou 
none  that  can  do  this  for  thee?  Would  it  not  be 
better  that  thou  shouldest  go  to  the  Church,  and 
another  cook  for  thee?"  the  humble  servant  of 
Christ  answered:  "Should  I  not  rather  strive  for 
this  to  gain  the  prayers  of  all  the  other  Brothers 
rather  than  my  own  prayers  alone.  For  during 
the  time  that  I  am  in  the  kitchen  all  the  others 
are  constrained  to  pray  for  me?  I  hope  therefore 
to  gain  a  greater  blessing  from  the  prayers  of 
those  that  are  in  the  Church  than  I  could  if  I 
alone  were  praying." 

Thus  he  edified  them  all  both  by  example  and 
precept,  seeking  not  what  was  pleasant  to  himself, 
but  what  was  useful  to  others  and  a  good  ex- 
ample. Whenever  he  took  his  meals  with  the 
Brothers  he  placed  the  first  dish  upon  the  table 
with  his  own  hands ;  and  he  grieved  much  because 
through  the  hindrance  of  his  infirmity  he  was  not 
able  to  take  his  place  every  day  at  the  Common 
table  of  the  Brotherhood.  For  this  cause  he  used 
to  eat  in  the  kitchen  alone  with  the  cook,  having 
a  small  table  meanly  served,  because  the  weakness 
of  his  stomach  suffered  him  not  to  take  solid  food. 
I  myself,  unworthy  as  I  am,  often  made  ready  his 
table  at  his  request,  and  brought  from  the  buttery 
that  modest  draught  which  he  desired,  and  I 
gladly  served  him  with  much  cheerfulness  of 
spirit. 


109 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 


CHAPTER  XIV 

(HI  How  he  laboured  with  his  hands  for  the  common 
good 

(0 

LORENTIUS,  who  excelled  all  others 
in  his  character,  and  is  worthy  to  be 
remembered  as  being  among  these  de- 
vout men  the  most  devout  of  all,  never 
wished  to  be  found  in  idleness,  but  strove  to  ex- 
pend his  precious  time  in  some  fruitful  work, 
being  careful  above  all  things — although  he  was 
the  holder  of  a  benefice — not  to  eat  his  bread  for 
naught  and  without  working  therefor.  And  what 
he  learned  and  received  from  Master  Gerard,  this 
he  carefully  observed;  for  it  was  the  Master's 
opinion  that  none  should  be  admitted  to  the  Com- 
munity save  he  who  was  willing — according  to 
the  saying  of  St.  Paul — to  labour  with  his  hands. 
For  this  is  an  holy  occupation  and  one  most 
profitable  to  all  spiritual  progress;  hereby  are  the 
lusts  of  the  flesh  tamed,  and  the  mind  is  the  more 
readily  bridled,  being  distracted  from  idle  wan- 
derings. By  such  work  is  hurtful  indolence  taken 
away,  and  thus  we  more  easily  avoid  those  foolish 
babblings  which  through  such  indolence  do  arise. 
And  when  the  opportunity  for  chattering  is  taken 
from  us,  the  work  doth  go  forward  under  our 
hand,  and  he  will  ever  be  more  fruitful  in  good 
who  shall  have  been  a  faithful  labourer.  By  this 
also  is  a  wise  provision  made  for  the  necessities 
of  the  Brothers,  and  the  miseries  of  the  poor  are 
more  freely  relieved,  for  Almsgiving  from  those 
gains  that  are  won  in  the  sweat  of  the  face  are 
l  10 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

the  more  pleasing  in  the  sight  of  God  and  more 
spotless,  and  the  profit  of  honest  labour  doth  re- 
lieve the  indigent.  For  this  reason  the  art  of 
copying  books  was  eagerly  taken  up  by  the 
brethren  of  his  house  in  the  earlier  days,  for  this 
is  more  convenient  for  clerks  than  other  work, 
and  can  be  pursued  more  quietly,  and  it  was  in- 
troduced as  their  customary  occupation  for  the 
common  good.  The  venerable  Father  Florentius 
himself  set  a  bright  example  before  the  copyists 
that  his  title  as  their  superior  might  not  seem  an 
empty  one,  and  that  he  might  enhance  his  priestly 
office  by  being  a  pattern  of  industry;  wherefore 
he  busied  himself  with  smoothing  the  parchment 
and  ruling  and  arranging  the  pages.  For  though 
he  was  less  skilful  as  a  copyist,  yet  with  his  own 
hand — though  consecrated  with  the  holy  oil — he 
gave  great  help  to  the  other  writers  by  preparing 
all  things  necessary  for  their  use. 

(2)  Occasionally,  as  opportunity  arose  and  time 
permitted,  he  with  a  chosen  companion  would 
read  and  correct  the  books  already  written,  or 
compile  Sacred  extracts  from  Holy  Scripture  for 
the  consolation  of  the  Brothers,  or  as  exercises 
for  others  of  the  household ;  for  he  delighted  and 
greatly  rejoiced  when  he  could  spend  his  day  in 
doing  some  good  for  the  Community,  knowing 
that  this  would  be  most  pleasing  to  God.  But 
owing  to  the  multitude  of  clerks  who  came  to- 
gether to  him  when  the  fame  of  his  goodness  was 
noised  further  abroad  his  help  was  demanded  by 
many  persons  outside  the  Brotherhood,  both  re- 
ligious and  learned  men.  Wherefore  in  the  interest 
of  the  salvation  of  souls,  it  was  fitting  for  him  to 
engage  himself  upon  higher  matters,  and  often  to 
abstain  from  his  own  personal  affairs  or  from 
111 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

private  study,  and  to  prefer  Spiritual  gain  before 
temporal  advantages. 

(3)  Sometimes  so  many  stood  before  his  cell 
desiring  to  speak  with  and  consult  him,  or  to  con- 
fess their  secrets  to  a  man  so  holy,  that  there  was 
scarcely  room  for  him  to  come  forth,  and  he  had 
barely  time  to  spare  for  reciting  the  Hours  and 
attending  duly  to  the  needs  of  the  body;  yet  he 
left  none  uncomforted,but  either  settled  the  matter 
out  of  hand,  or,  if  his  petitioner  desired  it  left  him 
free  to  return  to  him  on  a  future  occasion.  It 
happened  sometimes  that  he  began  to  recite  the 
Hours,  but  could  not  finish  the  Psalm  which  he 
had  begun  because  so  many  came  to  him  one  after 
the  other ;  and  that  he  might  not  yield  to  weariness 
and  refuse  to  open  the  door  to  him  that  knocked, 
he  said  to  himself,  "  Once  more  for  the  sake  of 
God,"  and  this  "  once  more  "  he  did  often  repeat 
till  "once"  became  "often,"  for  in  his  brotherly 
love  he  did  patiently  overcome  the  hardships  and 
unrestfulness  of  these  interruptions. 


CHAPTER  XV 

ite  Of  his  compassion  toward  the  poor,  the  sick, 
and  the  friendless 

(0 

MONGST    other    works    of  piety   the 

virtue    of  compassion    did    especially 

grow  and  flourish  in  the  heart  of  the 

good  Father,  a  virtue  which  he  showed 

and  exercised  by  the  frequent  distribution  of  alms 

to  the  poor  and  to  strangers;   wherefore  in  justice 

one  ought  to  say  of  him  as  is  said  of  the  righteous 

112 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

man  in  the  Psalm:  "  He  hath  distributed,  he  hath 
given  to  the  poor,  his  justice  remaineth  for  ever," 
for  indeed  he  was  a  most  loving  father  to  the  poor, 
a  most  kindly  comforter  to  those  in  distress,  and 
a  most  compassionate  visitor  of  the  sick.  Being 
filled  with  the  Spirit  of  God,  he  had  the  milk  of 
compassion,  and  the  wine  of  zeal  and  fervour,  and 
did  nurture  the  weak  with  the  oil  of  Mercy ;  while 
he  hated  their  evil  passions  and  sins,  yet  he  did 
display  his  detestation  thereof  and  his  mercy  each 
in  due  season  and  with  great  discretion. 

(2)  He  often  sent  meats  that  were  for  his  own 
table  to  the  sick  and  needy,  and  the  herbs  which 
were  sent  to  him  in  charity,  he  with  a  charity  still 
greater  would  share  with  others  that  did  lack. 
He  kept  the  names  of  the  poor  written  down,  and 
committed  the  care  of  them  to  one  or  two  of  the 
Brothers,  bidding  them  provide  for  their  honour- 
able entertainment  and  the  expenses  of  their  main- 
tenance. There  were  at  that  time  certain  honour- 
able persons  in  the  town  of  Deventer  who  feared 
God,  men  of  good  conversation  who  followed  the 
counsels  of  Florentius,and  certain  Matrons  wealthy 
and  devout  who  were  given  up  to  charitable  deeds, 
attending  the  Church  of  God  regularly  and 
honouring  His  priests.  These  ministered  to  God's 
poor  clerks  with  much  kindness,  and  at  the  re- 
quest and  instance  of  Florentius  did  most  willingly 
serve  them.  So  good  and  beloved  was  the  humble 
vicar  of  Christ  in  the  eyes  of  all  that  if  he  made 
a  petition  on  behalf  of  any  poor  man,  he  soon 
obtained  his  request.  He  showed  himself  affable 
to  the  friendless  and  to  strangers  as  if  they  were 
his  friends  and  kinsmen,  asking  whence  they  came, 
and  how  they  were  called,  begging  them  to  come 
sometimes  to  visit  him. 

113  1 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

(3)  This  notable  lover  of  Chastity  hid  not  the 
light  of  his  benevolence  from  the  little  ones,  and 
the  young  who  were  striving  after  innocence  of 
life  and  purity,  but  with  pious  words  taught  them 
to  love  Jesus  and  Mary,  exhorting  them  to  preserve 
their  innocence,  that  being  made  like  to  the  angels 
of  God  they  might  sing  the  Song  of  the  Virgins  in 
Heaven.  To  the  sad  and  tempted  he  was  cheerful 
and  comfortable,  so  that  if  any  were  troubled  or 
offended,  the  sight  of  Florentius,  and  a  few  words 
from  him,  would  give  such  an  one  peace  and  con- 
solation and  he  would  return  joyfully  to  his  own 
business.  This  I  have  often  tried  in  mine  own 
person,  as  have  my  comrades  in  devotion,  for  we 
were  instructed  by  his  counsel  and  taught  in  the 
School  of  Christ  by  his  excellent  discourses.  He 
did  not  shrink  from  lepers  or  others  who  were 
marred  by  any  bodily  deformity,  but  rather  took 
care  to  show  himself  more  kindly  than  usual  to 
such  outcasts,  knowing  that  this  was  more  pleas- 
ing to  the  Creator,  and  would  gain  greater  glory 
for  himself,  because  he  thought  upon  the  bond  of 
Nature,  and  the  image  of  God  in  man  rather  than 
the  vileness  of  the  person. 

(4)  I  have  seen  one  blind  of  an  eye,  and  another 
lame  of  one  foot,  who  were  converted  by  him,  and 
afterward  became  men  of  approved  life.  I  knew 
also  a  leper  who  abode  outside  the  city  walls  who 
in  the  grace  of  devotion  came  near  to  God's  priest, 
and  spoke  with  him  as  a  friend;  and  many  saw 
this  and  wondered  at  the  humility  of  the  Master 
in  sitting  by  a  leper.  He  als6  commanded  that  a 
draught  of  wine  and  a  special  dole  should  be  given 
to  the  man,  and  after  speaking  many  words  of 
holy  comfort  to  him  he  let  him  go  away  to  his 
own  abode  with  his  companion. 

114 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

CHAPTER  XVI 

(*€  Of  his  feeding  the  poor,  and  washing  beggars 

(0 

UT  because  as  Holy  Scripture  teacheth, 
God  loveth  a  cheerful  giver,  it  is  pleas- 
ant to  tell  further  of  the  great  com- 
passion shown  by  this  most  charitable 
father — Florentius — toward  the  poor  and  those 
that  were  full  of  sores,  the  maimed,  and  such  as 
had  no  friends  to  comfort  them.  Besides  the  alms 
that  were  applied  daily  to  pious  purposes  in  re- 
lieving mendicants,  Florentius,  this  most  pitiful 
father  of  the  indigent,  used  to  invite  to  his  table 
twelve  poor  scholars  every  year,  on  the  Feast  of 
S.  Gregory  the  Pope,  in  honour  of  that  Saint,  be- 
cause he  had  read  how  Gregory  himself  used  to 
entertain  twelve  poor  men  every  day.  I  myself 
also  by  his  direction  brought  to  his  house  at  dinner 
time  certain  poor  persons  whom  he  named  to  me, 
and  these  being  refreshed  with  food  and  drink  re- 
turned with  joyful  hearts  to  their  Schools  and  ren- 
dered thanks  to  God  for  the  benefits  they  had 
received,  and  expressed  deep  thankfulness  to 
Florentius  and  his  Brotherhood  for  their  abundant 
hospitality.  Then  was  most  clearly  fulfilled  that 
saying  of  the  Psalmist,  which  is  chanted  as  a  Grace 
before  meat  by  many  Religious  orders:  "The 
poor  shall  eat  and  be  filled,  they  shall  praise  the 
Lord  that  seek  Him,  their  hearts  shall  live  for  ever 
and  ever." 

(2)  So  too,  in  the  month  of  May,  the  Season 
when  the  wild  herbs  that  are  used  as  medicaments 
have  their  highest  virtue,  the  good  Father  did  not 
115 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

forget  his  poor;  knowing  that  many  were  weak, 
ulcerous,  and  full  of  sores,  he  made  them  to  come 
to  his  house  upon  an  appointed  day  and  hour  to 
receive  certain  medicines,  and  to  have  their  bodies 
bathed  in  warm  water  infused  with  aromatic  herbs. 
And  when  they  had  been  throughly  bathed  and 
washed  he  made  ready  for  each  a  most  cleanly 
bed  for  sudorific  treatment.  And  after  receiving 
a  cup  of  wine,  and  some  words  of  comfort,  they 
went  away  with  great  joy  to  their  own  homes, 
saying  one  to  the  other,  "  How  good  and  loving  a 
man  is  this  Lord  Florentius!  and  how  good  are 
the  Brethren  who  dwell  with  him!  in  that  they 
give  us  such  things  for  the  Sake  of  God  without 
money  and  without  price!  " 

(3)  Once  about  the  Season  of  Lent,  at  a  time 
of  scarcity,  when  poor  mendicants  were  borne 
down  by  want,  many  fled  for  refuge  to  the  tender- 
hearted Father  imploring  comfort  from  him, 
hoping  to  find  some  relief,  for  no  one  ever  came 
away  from  him  empty  or  uncomforted.  In  this 
distressful  time  Florentius,  the  Father  of  pity,  was 
filled  with  sympathy  for  the  pain  of  those  that 
suffered  hunger,  and  for  the  devout  poor,  taking 
counsel  with  the  Brothers  as  to  the  best  way  of 
succouring  the  needy  who  were  in  such  straits  that 
they  had  neither  money  in  their  purse,  nor  bread 
in  their  scrip.  Then  were  the  Brothers  one  and 
all  fired  with  desire  to  help  these  multitudes  of 
poor,  especially  at  this  Holy  Season  of  Lent,  which 
is  observed  as  a  time  of  Penance  at  which  one 
ought  to  expend  larger  sums  in  Charity  upon  the 
needy  who  with  many  prayers  ask  for  bread  in  the 
Name  of  God — as  saith  the  Prophet  Esias:  "  Deal 
thy  bread  to  the  hungry  and  bring  the  needy  and 
the  harbourless  into  thy  house;  when  thou  shalt 
116 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

see  one  naked,  cover  him,  and  despise  not  thine 
own  flesh."  Therefore  the  Brothers  did  firmly 
determine  to  deny  themselves  somewhat  and  to 
contribute  more  largely  to  the  poor,  and  for  their 
sake  add  one  hour  of  daily  work  to  the  usual 
period  of  labour  throughout  the  Season  of  Quad- 
ragesima: and  to  hand  the  whole  that  they  might 
gain  by  their  copying  in  that  hour  to  the  Overseer 
of  the  poor,  that  therewith  he  might  buy  them  the 
necessary  victual  and  faithfully  minister  to  them. 
The  same  was  done  by  certain  Brethren  that  were 
copyists  and  writers  in  other  Religious  Houses 
who  of  their  own  labour  offered  a  sacrifice  of  alms 
to  God,  chastening  themselves  of  their  own  will 
and  refreshing  the  poor  in  all  gladness. 

(4)  Who  can  worthily  unfold  all  the  pitiful  acts 
of  this  most  blessed  Father  toward  the  poor  and 
strangers,  but  particularly  toward  the  simple  and 
them  that  are  of  the  devout  Household  of  Christ? 
But  though  all  should  be  silent  yet  will  I  not  hold 
my  peace,  but  will  continually  sing  of  the  com- 
passions of  Florentius,  for  by  mine  own  experience 
did  I  prove  the  multitude  of  his  mercies  surely 
and  without  doubt  during  seven  years  of  his  life. 
Like  the  blessed  Job  indeed  "  He  was  feet  to  the 
lame,  and  eyes  was  he  to  the  blind,  an  hand  to  the 
needy,  a  staff  to  the  feeble,  a  comfort  to  the  fallen, 
a  cloak  to  him  that  was  scantily  clad."  One  did 
rejoice  for  the  alms  that  were  given  him,  another 
for  the  coat  that  was  made  for  him,  one  would  take 
away  a  cloak,  another  a  hat,  another  shoes,  an- 
other boots;  another  would  receive  a  girdle  and 
hosen,  another  books;  another  would  rejoice  that 
he  had  asked  and  received  pens,  ink,  and  paper. 
Thus  each  one  rejoicing  in  his  own  gift  would 
confess  that  from  this  honourable  Lord  Florentius, 
117 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

the  father  of  the  orphan  and  the  needy,  he  had 
received  not  goods  for  the  use  of  the  body  only, 
but  also  a  medicine  for  his  soul.  My  weak  tongue 
doth  not  suffice  to  tell  fully  of  his  virtues  and 
charitable  deeds,  for  his  conversation  and  that  of 
his  brethren  doth  surpass  the  reckoning  of  man. 
It  is  just  that  I  should  not  fear  to  say  of  them 
what  is  written  of  the  Apostolic  Saints:  "  They  are 
men  of  mercy  and  their  just  deeds  have  not  been 
forgotten.  Their  good  works  remain  with  their 
posterity,  and  all  the  Church  of  the  Saints  shall 
tell  of  their  almsgiving." 


CHAPTER  XVII 

<t€  Of  his  abstinence  and  the  infirmities   which 
came  upon  him  by  reason  of  his  austerity 

(>) 

HIS  fervent  and  devout  servant  of  God 
did  chastise  his  body  too  rigorously 
with  fast  and  watching  when  first  he 
was  converted;  in  the  endeavour  to 
restrain  the  concupiscence  of  the  flesh,  he  did  not 
consider  with  due  care  the  weakness  of  his  nature, 
but  in  the  fervour  of  his  spirit  did  so  persecute  the 
enemy  within  him,  that  by  the  weight  of  his  aus- 
terity he  did  also  overthrow  one  that  had  hereto- 
fore dwelt  within  him  in  friendship  and  loyalty.  For 
he  not  only  abstained  from  what  was  unlawful  and 
superfluous,  but  also  denied  himself  things  neces- 
sary, so  that  he  lost  all  appetite  for  food,  and  had 
no  taste  for  the  discerning  of  meats.  Wherefore 
it  once  happened  that  in  the  absence  of  the  cook 
he  went  into  the  buttery  and  drank  oil  out  of  a 
118 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

jar  mistaking  it  for  beer;  nor  did  he  know  the 
difference  until  the  cook  asked  him  from  which  of 
the  jars  he  had  drunk,  and  then  he  knew  of  his 
mistake.  At  another  time,  at  a  certain  Monastery, 
a  draught  of  wine  was  brought  him  to  drink  by 
reason  of  his  weakness  and  because  of  the  loving 
care  which  the  Brothers  had  for  him,  and  when 
he  had  tasted  thereof  he  said  to  one  that  stood  by, 
"  How  sharp  and  bitter  ye  make  your  beer";  and 
the  Brothers  marvelled  that  he  knew  not  the  taste 
of  wine  from  that  of  any  other  liquor.  Therefore 
he  took  his  victual  for  the  more  part  as  if  he  did 
not  taste  it,  and  rather  because  Nature  compelled 
him  to  eat  than  because  appetite  or  the  flavour  of 
any  meat  attracted  him. 

(2)  Sometimes  I  went  to  visit  him  in  his  cell, 
where  he  sat  upon  his  couch  in  bodily  weakness, 
and  I  spoke  to  him  with  sympathy,  being  much 
grieved  for  his  sickness.  And  once  Brother  James 
of  Viana,  who  at  that  time  ministered  to  him, 
brought  him  a  strengthening  decoction  of  herbs, 
saying,  "  These  are  good  herbs ;  I  pray  thee  take 
thereof,  are  they  not  pleasant  to  the  taste  ?  "  Then 
I  heard  Florentius  answer,  "  A  crust  of  bread 
would  be  more  savoury  to  you  than  this  is  to  me." 
But  although  he  was  very  weak  and  was  com- 
passed about  by  many  infirmities  of  the  body,  yet 
did  he  not  cease  from  the  work  of  God  and  from 
gathering  an  holy  harvest  of  souls.  When  he  was 
strong  enough  to  admit  them  to  come  to  him  he 
gave  to  those  that  sought  him  the  counsels  of  sal- 
vation with  renewed  fervour.  And  these  became 
the  sweeter  to  his  hearers  as  they  were  more  and 
more  assured  that  Florentius  was  beloved  of  God 
and  was  being  tried  by  various  bodily  infirmities, 
as  the  precious  gold  is  tried  in  the  fire. 
119 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

CHAPTER  XVIII 

(t€  How  he  often  recovered  by  the  aid  of  the  prayers 
of  the  devout 

(') 

HILE  he  suffered  continually  in  the 
flesh  yet  was  he  instant  in  render- 
ing thanks  to  God  with  all  dili- 
gence, because  the  sufferings  of  this 
present  time  are  not  worthy  to  be  compared  with 
the  gaining  of  the  glory  of  God  to  come.  And  he 
bore  with  patience  the  rod  of  the  Lord  "  that  was 
uplifted  against  him,  as  an  wholesome  discipline 
for  his  soul,"  bethinking  him  that  this  was  a 
sign  of  love,  as  the  Apostle  saith,  "  Whom  the 
Lord  loveth  He  chasteneth,  and  scourgeth  every 
son  whom  He  receiveth."  Our  good  Lord,  desir- 
ing to  show  how  greatly  the  tried  virtue  of  His 
sons  doth  please  Him,  and  how  the  prayers  of  the 
righteous  do  avail  much,  showed  mercy  toward 
His  beloved  priest,  who  was  often  brought  to  the 
very  extremity  of  weakness,  though  the  physicians 
thought  that  there  was  no  hope  of  saving  his  life  by 
any  human  means.  Florentius  himself  put  all  his 
hope  in  the  Lord,  Who  with  His  saving  grace 
doth  raise  up  the  deserving.  So  often  therefore 
as  perilous  sickness  did  assail  him  he  was  com- 
mended to  the  fervent  daily  prayers  of  the  neigh- 
bouring Religious  Communities  of  Brothers, 
Clerks,  and  Nuns,  that  they  might  implore  God  to 
spare  him  yet  a  little,  and  save  his  life  for  the 
weal  of  many;  and  that  the  devout  might  not 
suffer  sorrow  upon  sorrow  as  they  must  if  they 
were  bereft  of  a  Father  so  beloved  and  a  director 
so  necessary  to  them. 

120 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

(2)  I  myself  sometimes  was  the  messenger  on 
such  an  occasion,  and  said  to  the  Nuns,  "  Pray  for 
our  lord  Florentius,  for  his  sickness  is  heavy  upon 
him."  And  behold,  the  merciful  God,  who  despis- 
eth  not  the  prayer  of  the  poor,  but  doth  readily 
hear  the  vows  of  the  humble,  restored  his  beloved 
and  faithful  servant  to  health,  "  to  make  known 
His  power  to  the  sons  of  men." 

(3)  In  those  days  there  was  one  renowned  for 
his  knowledge  of  medicine,  named  Everard  Eza, 
Curate  of  Almelo,  a  man  of  much  skill  and  repute 
amongst  the  doctors  of  medicine ;  this  man,  being 
inspired  by  the  grace  of  the  Religious  Life,  be- 
came the  familiar  friend  of  Florentius  and  his 
Brothers,  and  others  who  were  vowed  to  Christ; 
he  was  wont  to  come  often  to  Florentius,  and  to 
give  him  freely  the  relief  that  his  art  afforded ;  and 
the  Brothers  loved  him  much  and  received  him 
with  reverence.  He  showed  great  diligence  to 
heal  his  beloved  friend,  and  was  often  very  help- 
ful to  him;  also  he  relieved  the  sadness  of  the 
Brothers,  and  consoled  them  by  his  confidence 
that  there  was  hope  that  the  life  of  Florentius 
would  be  saved,  saying  to  them,  "  I  do  put  my 
faith  in  God  rather  than  in  the  art  of  medicine, 
consideringthisnamely,that  it  doth  surpass  human 
strength  for  one  to  have  lived  so  long  with  such  a 
weakly  body,  and  unless  the  special  grace  of  God 
were  preserving  him,  and  the  prayers  of  many 
were  being  offered  for  him,  he  would  immediately 
die,  or  rather  he  would  have  been  dead  long  since. 
It  is  good,  therefore,  to  pray  faithfully  for  him,  for 
the  saving  of  his  life  doth  depend  particularly 
upon  the  Grace  of  God." 


12 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 


CHAPTER  XIX 

(t£  How  upon  an  Easter  Even  be  was  healed  by  a 
Vision  of  Angels 

(') 

IS  sickness  came  upon  him  more  griev- 
ously and  oftener  during  the  season  of 
Lent  than  at  other  times  in  the  year 
because  the  Lenten  fare  was  somewhat 
trying  and  ill  to  digest;  but  though  at  this  sea- 
son his  bodily  weakness  was  greater  yet  he  offered 
himself  to  keep  the  fast  with  a  mind  even  more 
cheerful  than  usual;  once  his  strength  so  drooped 
owing  to  his  abstaining  almost  entirely  from  food 
— and  the  consequent  weakness  of  his  stomach — 
that  there  was  scarcely  a  hope  that  he  could  live 
till  Easter.  But  the  devout  prayers  of  the  Brothers 
cried  without  ceasing  to  God  for  him,  and  they 
implored  that  answering  Grace  Which  they  had 
often  known  before.  At  that  time  all  human  aid 
was  failing  and  they  had  recourse  to  the  power  of 
God,  that  mightiest  source  of  comfort. 

(2)  So  when  the  fast  was  over  and  the  glorious 
Festival  of  the  Lord's  Resurrection  was  at  hand, 
this  chosen  man  of  God  was  resting  on  his  bed 
steeped  in  a  sweet  sleep;  and  behold!  on  this 
most  holy  Paschal  night  he  was  thought  worthy 
to  receive  the  comfort  and  consolation  of  an  Angelic 
vision.  He  saw  two  angels  appear  before  him, 
one  standing  upon  the  right  side  of  his  bed  and 
the  other  upon  the  left;  one  lifted  up  his  hand 
and  brandished  a  sword  over  the  head  of  the 
sleeper,  as  if  in  act  to  strike,  but  the  other  stayed 
the  blow,  and  forbade  him,  saying,  "  Smite  him 
122 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

not,  for  his  life  shall  yet  be  whole  within  him  and 
he  shall  not  die."  Amazed  at  this  vision  sent  from 
heaven,  Florentius  awoke,  raised  as  it  were  from 
death  to  life  and  wondrously  comforted  in  the 
Lord;  calling  his  servant — who  was  sleeping  in 
the  cell  near  at  hand — he  said,  in  a  confident 
voice,  "  Arise,  and  prepare  me  something  to  eat 
to-day;  I  feel  that  I  am  mending,  and  we  must 
keep  feast  in  the  Lord  together!"  Then  the  ser- 
vant, filled  with  great  joy,  hasted  to  do  as  Floren- 
tius commanded,  and  all  who  heard  thereof  were 
filled  with  amazement  and  joy  that  he  who  they 
had  lately  feared  must  die  had  begun  so  quickly 
to  amend. 

(3)  This  vision  he  afterward  told  to  his  uncle, 
the  Canon  of  St.  Mary's  Church  in  Utrecht,  who 
loved  him  with  all  his  heart.  He  did  not  name 
himself,  but  told  how  it  was  revealed  to  a  certain 
man  that  he  should  live  awhile  longer.  Upon  this 
his  uncle  did  congratulate  him  greatly,  and  blessed 
God  who  had  sent  His  Angel  and  saved  Floren- 
tius from  the  destruction  of  death. 

The  illustrious  Florentius  lived  for  several  years 
after  this,  to  the  comfort  of  all  devout  persons, 
both  clerks  and  lay  folk,  who  came  to  him  from 
divers  parts  and  countries  for  the  healing  of  their 
souls:  for  this  man  of  God  and  the  Community  of 
Brothers,  who  were  gathered  together  in  his  house, 
became  by  their  precept  and  example  leaders  in 
holy  conversation  to  such  devout  persons,  to  the 
Glory  of  God  Almighty. 


123 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

CHAPTER  XX 

<t€  Of  one  who  fell  into  a  well  and  was  drawn  out 
unhurt 

(0 

T  happened  upon  a  time  that  many 
came  together  to  the  ancient  house  of 
the  beloved  Father  Florentius  to  hear 
the  Word  of  God,  and  while  he  was 
discoursing  to  them  with  holy  exhortation,  a  cer- 
tain man  who  was  sitting  with  others  on  the  edge 
of  a  well  was  overcome  with  sleep  and  fell  back 
headlong  into  the  water.  All  who  were  present 
were  terrified  by  his  fall  and  looked  down  into 
the  well  lamenting  the  mischance — and  behold! 
by  the  protection  of  God  the  man  stood  safe  and 
unhurt  upon  his  feet  in  the  water  of  the  well,  to 
the  wonder  of  all.  And  hastily  seizing  a  pole 
which  hung  above  they  let  it  down  through  the 
well's  mouth  and  drew  forth  alive  the  man  who, 
as  they  had  thought,  was  almost  drowned  and 
dead.  Seeing  him  freed  from  so  great  danger  they 
rendered  thanks  to  God  Almighty,  and  were  not 
a  little  comforted  in  that  He  had  not  allowed  one 
to  suffer  sudden  death  in  that  house. 

(2)  This  was  told  me  by  a  citizen  of  Kempen 
who  was  present  at  the  time  and  as  a  youth  had 
been  often  in  Deventer;  he  also  told  me  many 
good  things  of  this  man  of  God  and  his  Brother- 
hood. I  have  often  drawn  water  for  use  in  the 
kitchen  out  of  this  same  well,  which  is  somewhat 
narrow,  and  therefore  the  thing  that  was  done 
doth  tend  yet  more  strongly  to  the  Glory  of  God, 
who  is  present  to  save  lives  from  danger,  beyond 
all  that  we  ask  of  Him. 

124 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 


CHAPTER  XXI 

<*€  Of  the  vision  of  the  Rood  which  appeared  over 
his  house 

(>) 

HIS  Community  of  Brothers  dwelling 
in  the  house  of  Florentius  was  wholly 
pleasing  toGod  and  beloved  of  Him,  and 
being  gathered  together  to  His  praise 
was  refulgent  with  virtue  and  adorned  with  lofty 
and  meritorious  deeds.  Lowliness,  which  therein 
was  the  chief  of  all  virtues,  was  sought  after  by  all 
from  the  lowest  to  the  highest;  and  did  make  a 
Paradise  of  this  earthly  house,  transforming  mortal 
men  into  heavenly  pearls  to  be  as  living  stones 
meet  for  glory  in  the  temple  of  God. 

(2)  Here  under  the  strict  discipline  of  the  Rule, 
obedience,  the  mother  of  virtue,  and  the  lamp  of 
discernment,  so  flourished,  that  to  obey  without 
hesitation  became  the  highest  wisdom,  and  for 
one  to  neglect  the  counsel  or  lightest  word  of  his 
Superior  would  have  been  a  deed  of  horror  and 
disgrace. 

Here  the  inward  manifestations  of  love,  that  is 
for  God,  and  its  outward  manifestation,  that  is 
charity  to  one's  neighbour,  burned  with  so  hot  a 
flame  that  the  hard  hearts  of  sinners  who  heard 
the  holy  discourses  of  the  Brothers  were  melted 
to  tears,  and  they  that  had  come  thither  cold  at 
heart,  being  there  kindled  by  the  fire  of  the  Word, 
went  away  rejoicing,  heedful  to  sin  no  more. 
Here  the  armour  of  spiritual  warfare  was  kept 
bright  for  use  against  the  several  sins  of  man, 
and  old  and  young  alike  did  learn  to  fight  bravely 
125 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

against  the  devil,  their  own  flesh,  and  the  deceits 
of  the  world.  Here  the  memory  of  the  ancient 
Fathers,  and  the  pattern  of  the  holy  conversation 
of  the  monks  of  Egypt — which  had  lain  as  it  were 
half  dead  upon  the  earth — were  restored  to  life; 
and  the  manner  of  life  of  the  clergy  rose  to  that 
standard  of  the  highest  perfection  which  was  set 
by  the  practice  of  the  Primitive  Church. 

Here  were  heard  devout  exhortations  to  the 
spiritual  warfare.  Here  amid  their  daily  medita- 
tions the  Brothers  did  full  often  dwell  upon  that 
most  holy  and  sorrowful  Passion  of  our  Saviour 
Jesus  Christ  in  loving  recollection,  and  ruminate 
thereupon;  because  to  recall  that  Passion  and  to 
dwell  upon  It  doth  surely  conduce  to  the  soul's 
health,  doth  avail  to  cure  the  deadly  bite  of  the 
serpent,  to  calm  the  tempests  of  passion  in  the 
heart,  and  to  uplift  the  dullard  mind  from  things 
of  earth  to  things  of  Heaven  through  the  imitation 
of  the  Crucified  Lord. 

(3)  And  because  the  ardour  of  their  devout 
thanksgiving,  and  their  remembrance  of  the  bene- 
fits that  God  had  bestowed  upon  them  leaped  up 
as  a  flame  in  the  hearts  of  many;  and  because 
this  holy  Community  was  ever  making  progress 
to  still  better  things,  being  instructed  by  the  ex- 
ample of  the  revered  father  Florentius  utterly  to 
despise  the  world;  therefore  the  good  God  Who 
giveth  His  blessing  and  grace  to  the  humble,  failed 
not  to  cherish  His  faithful  servants  by  giving  to 
them  holy  comfort  and  inward  joy.  Bringing  for- 
ward one  instance  out  of  many  I  will  add  here  in 
a  few  words  the  story  of  a  marvellous  sight,  which 
God  Who  knoweth  all  hidden  things  thought  good 
to  show  above  that  house  which  He  had  conse- 
crated with  unction  from  on  high. 
126 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

(4)  There  was  a  devout  disciple  of  Florentius, 
a  young  branch  of  his  planting,  who  was  startled 
by  a  strange  vision  in  the  night,  and  at  first  was 
altogether  afraid,  but  afterward  was  made  joyful 
by  the  wondrous  and  divine  power  of  God.    For 
as  he   lay  upon  his  pallet,  a  mighty  wind  arose 
from  the  north,  and  there  came  a  fierce  tempest 
shaking  all  the   earth  as   if  the  day  of  the  Last 
Judgement  were  at  hand,  that  day  which  all  flesh 
must  fear.  Terror-stricken  at  this  dreadful  tempest 
the  young  man  began  to  think  how  he  should  flee, 
and  whither  turn  aside  from  the  face  of  the  wrath 
of  God;   but  being  caught   in  a   strait  place  he 
looked  upward  to  Heaven,  and  lo!  there  was  seen 
clearly  in  the  sky  the  sign  of  the  Cross  bearing 
the  Figure  of  Christ,  the  Author  of  our  Salvation. 
And  as  he   gazed  upon  this  holy  Figure   of  the 
Crucified,   pendent   in   the   air   with   hands    out- 
stretched and  pierced  with  the  nails,  the  glory  of 
Whose  Presence  doth  lighten   all  the  world,  the 
tempest   ceased.     And  the   Rood   moved   onward 
until  It  stood  over  the  house  of  Florentius  where 
dwelt  those  that  truly   despised   the    world,    the 
servants  of  the  Holy  Cross,  at  Whose  coming  and 
before  Whose  Presence  the  whole  house  was  lifted 
from  its  foundations  as  if  to  meet  the  Saviour,  and 
nowhere  touched  the  ground;   and  after  bending 
reverently  towards  the  Cross  it  returned  again  to 
its  former  stable  position;   but  the  Image  of  the 
Cross  went  onward  and  stood  above  the  wall  over 
against  the  door  of  the  house  through  which  the 
Brothers   went   forth   day  by   day.    Seeing  these 
things    the   young  man    spread    forth   his    hands 
toward  the  Cross  and  began  to  pray  and  implore 
to  be  protected  from  the  fear  of  the  dread  Judge- 
ment,  and  straightway  he  was  caught  up  from 
127 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

where  he  lay  and  placed  within  the  door  of 
Florentius'  house  as  if  in  a  place  of  safety  beneath 
the  Wings  of  the  Crucified.  Then  being  overjoyed 
and,  as  it  were,  safe  from  every  danger,  he  awoke 
in  unspeakable  gladness,  and,  wondering  greatly, 
returned  thanks  to  God  who  had  thought  good  to 
give  him  such  a  revelation  concerning  the  holy 
Brotherhood  to  which  he  was  zealously  from 
thenceforth  to  cleave,  and  continually  to  reverence 
the  life  thereof  which  was  hid  with  Christ. 


CHAPTER  XXII 

*€  Of  his  patience,  gentleness,  and  love  toward 
all  men 

(«) 

CERTAIN  Senator,  who  relied  upon 
his  own  worldly  cunning,  was  not  afraid 
to  trouble  Master  Florentius,  this  man 
of  God,  but  shamelessly  strove  to  de- 
prive him  of  his  benefice,  thinking  perchance  that 
no  one  would  oppose  him,  or  answer  on  behalf  of 
Christ's  vicar,  who  seemed  to  be  devout  and  meek 
towards  them  that  did  him  hurt.  But  when  the 
cause  came  on  and  Florentius  should  have  answered 
his  adversary  as  to  the  plaint  against  him,  the 
Master  made  use  of  no  wordy  argument  or  elo- 
quent pleading,  but  replied  shortly  and  humbly 
after  this  manner:  "  If  ye  have  a  better  right  than 
I,  in  the  Name  of  God  maintain  it."  And  they 
that  stood  by  wondered,  and  were  edified  at  his 
words. 

(2)  But  one  of  the  canons,  a  man  zealous  for 
God,  who  would  not  suffer  the  just  and  innocent 
128 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

to  be  oppressed,  said  to  him,  "  Beloved  Master, 
why  dost  thou  speak  thus?  Hast  thou  so  little  care 
to  keep  thy  benefice?  Yet  shall  not  the  enemy 
gain  that  which  he  seeketh,  but  we  on  thy  behalf 
will  look  to  it  that  thou  keep  that  which  thou  dost 
rightfully  possess."  The  adversary  hearing  these 
words  was  silent,  and  departed,  having  gained 
nothing,  for  indeed  all  men  knew,  both  high  and 
low  alike,  that  the  devout  Master  was  a  worthy 
Priest  of  Christ,  and  one  whose  life  and  doctrine 
had  led  many  to  despise  the  world.  For  he  had 
made  them  that  were  aforetime  great  and  worldly- 
wise  to  become  lowly  and  simple-minded  brothers, 
and  some  that  were  sufficiently  instructed  for  the 
devout  life  and  the  dignity  of  the  Priesthood,  he 
had  made  able  ministers  therein  as  the  sevenfold 
grace  of  the  Holy  Ghost  increased  in  them. 

(3)  But  he  thought  it  his  greatest  gain  and 
chiefest  joy  to  have  shown  to  any  the  way  of 
eternal  salvation,  and  to  have  recalled  them  from 
sinfulness  to  continence;  for  these  things  he  was 
reverenced  by  men  of  the  world,  honoured  by  the 
great,  and  most  tenderly  loved  by  the  good  and 
the  devout;  his  earnest  life,  his  love  of  God,  made 
perfect;  his  dutifulness  to  his  neighbour,  his 
bounty  toward  the  poor,  his  honesty  to  his  fellows, 
his  kindliness  to  the  afflicted  made  him  to  be  so 
beloved  of  all.  Wherefore  one  said  of  him:  "There 
is  no  Monk  whom  I  love  and  respect  so  much  as 
Florentius;  I  look  upon  him  as  upon  an  Angel  of 
God."  He,  however,  took  no  pleasure  in  his  own 
reputation,  but  rather  in  the  conversion  of  men 
and  the  progress  of  the  Brotherhood,  whose  num- 
bers were  increased  daily,  for  in  his  time  the  Lord 
bestowed  His  Grace  without  stint  upon  them.  For 
this  cause  his  name,  which  was  in  great  esteem, 
129  k 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

and  the  good  report  of  his  reputation  reached 
even  to  strange  cities,  and  men  both  in  Deventer 
and  afar  off  praised  and  commended  him  greatly. 
Yet  he  thought  not  of  the  praise  that  men  gave 
him,  nor  weighed  it  at  all;  yea  rather  he  held  it 
worthless  and  derided  it,  for  having  cast  his  eye 
upon  certain  laudatory  letters  that  were  sent  him 
he  threw  them  behind  a  chest,  saying,  "  Is  this 
all  of  which  they  have  to  write?  Good  were  it  if 
they  had  said  nothing  on  such  a  matter." 


CHAPTER  XXIII 
*C  Of  his  devout  exhortation  to  spiritual  prayer 

(0 

ASTER  FLORENTIUS,  that  notable 
fair  flower  of  the  priesthood,  that  fervid 
zealot  for  souls,  not  only  took  thought 
for  the  Brothers  of  his  house,  but  was 
also  instant  in  planting  the  seeds  of  the  Word  of 
Salvation  amongst  other  neighbouring  Commu- 
nities of  Clerks  and  from  time  to  time  communed 
with  them  and  piously  exhorted  them  to  have  peace 
and  charity  towards  one  another,  either  preach- 
ing himself  or  sending  some  suitable  Brother  of 
his  house.  When  he  visited  them  all  the  inmates 
rejoiced,  desiring  to  hear  the  Holy  Word  from  the 
mouth  of  God's  Priest,  for  the  Holy  Ghost  spoke 
through  his  mouth  to  comfort  that  little  Flock 
which  was  eagerly  and  devoutly  willing  to  obey. 
(2)  In  one  of  his  discourses  he  spake  this  word 
of  advice.  "  Every  man  should  set  before  him 
daily  these  resolutions,  namely,  to  earnestly  strive 
to  amend  his  life :  to  struggle  anew  against  his 
130 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

temptations;  to  pluck  out  his  vices,  to  strive  with 
special  courage  to  overcome  those  sins  which  do 
more  easily  beset  him;  to  do  violence  to  himself 
for  Christ's  sake  because  '  the  Kingdom  of  heaven 
sufTereth  violence,  and  the  violent  bear  it  away.'  * 
It  is  profitable  also  for  a  man  to  lay  his  passions 
and  perplexities  bare  before  some  discreet  brother, 
one  who  hath  tried  knowledge  of  the  Way  of  God. 
It  is  well  not  to  strive  in  the  light  of  one's  own 
understanding  only,  but  rather  to  trust  another, 
to  humbly  receive  his  counsel,  and  gladly  to  follow 
him  as  a  director,  for  this  is  a  great  help  to  those 
that  are  newly  converted  and  a  wholesome  sign 
of  spiritual  progress. 

Therefore  a  man  who  doth  so  resolve  to  serve 
God  continually,  diligently  to  amend  his  life  and 
to  keep  himself  carefully  from  all  sin,  doth  thereby 
become  more  worthy  and  more  acceptable  than 
if  he  fed  an  hundred  poor  persons  without  making 
such  a  resolution  to  govern  himself;  because  the 
greatest  gift  that  man  can  offer  to  God  is  a  good 
and  perfect  will  to  serve  Him  all  the  days  of  one's 
life.  So  long  as  a  man  doth  abide  by  his  holy 
purpose  his  death  cannot  be  ill,  for  though  he  die, 
I  do  trust  that  he  will  be  in  a  state  of  Salvation, 
and  shall  find  mercy,  because  his  intent  was  good, 
and  a  good  will  shall  be  counted  to  him  for  right- 
eousness as  if  he  had  carried  out  his  purpose  :  as 
holy  David  doth  confess,  saying,  "  O  Lord,  thou 
hast  crowned  us  with  a  shield  of  thy  good-will." 

Many  other  words  of  comfort  spake  he  to 
strengthen  the  devout  young  men  who  were  gath- 
ered together  in  his  house  from  divers  parts  to 
employ  their  time  in  spiritual  study,  not  in  the 
School  of  learning  only,  but  also  in  the  School  of 
Christ. 

131 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

(3)  Some  of  these  would  note  his  words  in  a 
book,  and  eagerly  show  them  to  such  as  had  been 
absent,  quoting  these  words  of  Divine  eloquence 
amongst  themselves  with  a  far  keener  zest  than 
worldlings  show  in  repeating  witty  sayings.  He 
abstained  altogether  from  dealing  with  deep  ques- 
tions, subtle  arguments  and  difficult  matters, 
knowing  that  such  things  yield  but  little  edification 
to  devout  minds,  but  rather  are  often  an  hindrance 
to  heartfelt  repentance,  and  overturn  the  faith  of 
the  innocent.  And  thus  it  hath  been  found  with 
many  men,  that  those  who  looking  closely  into 
curious  matters  leave  the  plain  and  lowly  way  of 
Christ,  do  thereby  sow  into  themselves  the  seeds 
of  many  falls  and  errors. 

(4)  A  certain  learned  monk  was  once  arguing 
with  a  Carthusian,  on  the  ground  that  his  order 
being  devoted  to  that  solitude  and  peace  which 
give  a  man  leisure  for  the  things  of  his  own  soul, 
it  would  seem  to  produce  scarcely  any  fruit  in  the 
Church  of  God;  but  the  good  monk  made  this 
wise  and  apt  reply:  "We  would  gladly  do  those 
things  which  ye  preach  and  teach,  but  we  believe 
that  contempt  of  the  world  is  better  taught  by  acts 
of  penitence  than  by  beautiful  sermons  and  many 
wanderings." 

A  certain  Jew  who  had  been  converted  to  the 
Christian  faith  hearing  the  report  of  the  holy  life 
of  Master  Florentius,  desired  to  confer  with  him 
about  the  Patriarchs  and  Prophets  of  old,  because 
he  was  thought  to  be  learned  in  the  old  law  and 
in  Hebrew,  and  was  by  many  called  "Rabbi/' 
after  the  manner  of  the  Jewish  sect;  and  when  he 
came  into  the  presence  of  Florentius  that  Man  of 
God  received  him  kindly  and  heard  him  patiently, 
conferring  with  him  in  all  gentleness  and  charity, 
132 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

urging  him  to  keep  the  true  faith  in  Christ  and  to 
labour  in  good  works;  but  as  for  those  questions 
of  the  Law  that  pertain  not  to  salvation,  and  those 
genealogies  of  the  men  of  old,  he  would  not  breathe 
a  word  upon  them,  not  because  he  was  ignorant 
in  such  matters,  but  because  they  bring  no  edifi- 
cation. 


CHAPTER  XXIV 

<*€  Of  his  effectual  preaching  and  his  knowledge 
of  the  Scriptures 

(0 

HIS  revered  Priest  preached  not  smooth 
flatteries,  but  testified  clearly  of  the 
Truth;  his  aim  was  not  worldly  elo- 
)  quence  but  simple  instruction  in  con- 
duct and  to  lead  his  hearers  by  reasoning  to  reject 
the  world  after  the  example  of  the  Saints,  He 
sought  not  money  from  the  rich,  nor  honour 
among  the  great,  but  discoursed  more  freely  with 
simple  folk,  on  whose  behalf  he  was  instant  with 
those  in  high  places  that  they  should  be  mindful 
of  the  poor,  and  "  by  means  of  the  mammon  of 
unrighteousness  make  to  themselves  friends  in 
the  habitations  of  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven."  Could 
any  lightly  refuse  to  hear  his  intercession?  Verily 
he  dared  not  do  so  lest  an  offended  God  should 
refuse  to  hear  his  own  petitions. 

(2)  Once  a  priest  who  had  charge  of  the  Church 
of  Deventer,  and  was  a  good  friend  to  Florentius, 
came  to  him  offering  him  service  in  sincere  good- 
will and  said,  "  My  beloved  Master,  if  I  can  do 
anything  to  please  thee,  spare  me  not  ";  and  that 
good  father  answered,  "For  the  present  time  there 
133 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

is  nothing  save  that  thou  wouldest  show  thyself 
to  be  well  disposed  to  the  Brothers  and  Sisters 
who  are  placed  in  thy  charge,  that  they  be  not 
troubled  by  them  of  the  world  and  froward  men  "  ; 
and  the  other  piously  assenting  to  this,  replied, 
"  I  will  gladly  do  this  for  the  love  of  God  and  of 
you  all  that  ye  may  be  also  mindful  of  me." 

Master  John  Boheme  also,  who  was  Rector  of 
the  Scholars,  and  Vicar  of  the  Great  Church, 
under  whose  direction  I  long  attended  the  school, 
was  a  friend  to  Florentius,  and  heard  him  gladly, 
doing  what  he  knew  would  be  pleasingto  God.  And 
when  the  time  to  pay  the  fees  was  come,  each  scholar 
brought  what  was  justly  due,  and  I  also  put  my 
fee  into  his  hand  and  asked  for  a  book  which  I  had 
deposited  as  a  pledge  for  payment.  And  he  hav- 
ing some  knowledge  of  me,  and  aware  that  I  was 
under  the  care  of  Florentius,  said,  "  Who  gave 
thee  this  money?"  and  I  answered,  "My  lord 
Florentius."  "  Then  go,"  said  he,  "  take  back  his 
money,  since  for  love  of  him  I  will  take  nothing 
from  thee."  So  I  took  back  the  money  again  to 
my  lord,  Florentius,  and  said,  "  The  Master  hath 
given  back  my  fee  for  love  of  thee  " ;  and  Floren- 
tius said,  "  I  thank  him  and  will  repay  him,  after 
another  fashion  with  gifts  more  excellent  than 
money."  He  knew  by  his  discerning  spirit  what 
answer  to  make  to  everyone,  and  by  his  gift  of 
counsel  could  supply  an  wholesome  medicine  both 
to  the  learned  and  unlearned,  and  all  who  sought 
aid  for  their  divers  needs,  but  he  required  no 
earthly  reward  for  such  service. 

(3)  Wherefore  one  who  had  committed  himself 

to  his  direction  said,  "  As  often  as  I  have  followed 

the  counsels  of  Florentius,  it  hath  been  well  with 

me ;  but  whensoever  I  have  striven  in  the  light  of 

134 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

mine  own  understanding  evil  hath  ever  happened 
to  me,  and  I  have  repented  that  I  acted  not  accord- 
ing to  his  direction.  "  His  knowledge  of  the  Holy 
Scriptures  shone  brightly  like  some  ray  from 
heaven  within  him,  and  his  mind  was  illumined 
with  so  pure  a  light  of  divine  radiance  that  whether 
he  was  reading  the  Old  or  New  Testament  some 
mystic  interpretation  of  every  passage  came  to 
him,  and  he  everywhere  found  something  to  in- 
struct him  and  lead  him  to  God,  the  Fount  of  all 
knowledge  and  the  End  of  every  word.  The  books 
that  he  kept  to  his  hand  were  simple  moral  Trea- 
tises, especially  the  "  Mirror  for  Monks,"  and 
certain  manuals  of  virtuous  exercises  against  sin 
wherewith  he  trained  himself  and  his  fellow 
soldiers  in  Christ's  army  to  fight  triumphantly 
against  the  temptations  of  the  devil.  But  the 
Novices,  the  inexperienced,  and  those  that  were 
swollen  with  worldly  pride,  and  those  that  were 
yet  tainted  with  love  of  carnal  things,  he  did  dis- 
suade from  studying  deep  and  subtle  questions, 
and  from  prying  curiously  into  dark  and  doubtful 
matters. 

(4)  Therefore  he  taught  that  all  such  must  first 
learn  to  humble  themselves,  to  know  well  their 
own  weakness,  to  submit  themselves  utterly  to 
their  Superiors,  to  prefer  themselves  before  no 
man,  to  keep  peace  and  amity  with  all,  to  have 
the  fear  of  God  ever  in  their  heart,  and  having 
made  their  foundation  sure  in  lowliness,  at  length 
by  the  indwelling  grace  of  the  Holy  Ghost  to  climb 
to  the  height  of  clear  knowledge  and  the  light  of 
that  full  vision  of  God  which  is  promised  to  the 
pure  in  heart  by  that  saying  of  the  Lord,  "  Blessed 
are  the  pure  in  heart  for  they  shall  see  God." 

(5)  They  that  seek  to  be  thought  subtle  rather 

135 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

than  to  be  humble,  and  desire  knowledge  more 
than  a  good  life  are  easily  puffed  up,  and  are  car- 
nally minded ;  such  men  Florentius  would  severely 
reprove,  and  recall  to  a  wholesome  knowledge  of 
their  own  weakness  by  humiliation  and  frequent 
exercises  of  devotion.  When  it  was  necessary  for 
him  to  impeach  any,  he  was  held  in  such  awe 
that  none  ventured  to  contradict  him,  or  excuse 
himself,  by  reason  of  the  reverence  inspired  by  his 
holy  life,  which  none  durst  offend  lest  they  should 
incur  the  wrath  of  God  by  not  humbly  obeying 
such  directions. 


CHAPTER  XXV 

<•€  How  he  set  a  guard  upon  his  tongue  and 
avoided  oaths 

(0 

NCE  when  he  was  residing  at  Amers- 
foort  he  was  received  with  all  venera- 
tion by  the  inhabitants  of  that  city  and 
by  the  great  men  of  the  district,  who 
visited  him  from  time  to  time  in  pious  devotion. 
Then  also  certain  honourable  men  came  to  dine 
with  him  and  the  Brothers,  in  order  to  hear  his 
discourse,  desiring  to  enjoy  familiar  intercourse 
with  him,  and  to  be  instructed  by  his  good  ex- 
ample and  doctrine.  These  he  treated  kindly, 
exhorting  them  with  wholesome  counsel  accord- 
ing to  their  station,  and  when  they  had  heard  the 
Word  of  God  they  returned  severally  to  their  own 
homes  with  thanksgiving. 

(2)  And  when  they  had  departed  he  briefly  ad- 
monished the  Brothers,  saying,  "  It  is  a  danger- 
ous thing  to  speak  and  to  associate  with  the  Great 
136 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

and  them  of  the  world.  It  is  not  expedient  to 
flatter  the  rich,  nor  is  it  convenient  that  the  inner 
secrets  should  be  told  to  them;  wherefore  it  is 
needful  for  a  man  to  look  carefully  to  what  he 
saith  to  such,  lest  they  be  scandalized  by  any 
light  word  or  unseemly  action.  For  their  eyes 
are  ever  looking  upon  us  to  consider  our  bearing, 
by  reason  of  the  good  report  which  they  hear  of 
us.  Let  us  stand  therefore  upon  our  guard,  and 
set  a  good  example  to  those  from  without  who 
seek  to  visit  us,  for  they  see  our  outward  actions 
only,  and  from  these  judge  of  what  is  within. 
Although  we  are  not  perfect  in  all  things,  let  us 
take  care  that  we  give  no  ill  example  nor  occasion 
of  stumbling  to  the  weak.  These  guests  of  ours 
are  too  kind  to  us,  and  perhaps  their  kindness  is 
not  to  our  profit.  Let  us  not  be  over-pleased  with 
empty  praise,  for  it  is  our  duty  to  be  simple  and 
lowly.  It  were  better  therefore  to  return  quickly 
to  our  former  dwelling,  where  there  are  many 
who  take  less  thought  of  us,  and  some  who  even 
mock,  and  speak  evil  of  us,  a  thing  which  is  very 
profitable,  and  doth  constrain  us  the  more  to  turn 
again  to  God. 

(3)  And  thus  Florentius  was  guarded  and 
thoughtful  in  all  his  speech,  especially  before  them 
of  the  world  and  persons  whom  he  knew  not. 
Likewise  he  was  strict  in  avoiding  that  most  evil 
custom  of  swearing,  which  is  common  among 
men  of  the  world;  and  he  forbade  any  of  his  Com- 
munity in  their  daily  talk  to  use  such  phrases  as 
"Verily  I  do  swear,"  or  "  Of  a  surety  I  swear"; 
lest  by  such  heedless  swearing  they  should  pile 
up  sin  on  sin.  Wherefore  whenever  he  wished  to 
lay  stress  upon  any  notable  or  important  matter, 
or  when  he  must  bear  testimony  to  anything,  he 
137 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

would  not  lightly  or  hardily  introduce  the  form  of 
an  oath,  but  would  answer  in  his  gentle  way, 
"This  is  the  conclusion  of  the  matter,"  or  "this 
is  surely  so  " ;  and  thus  he  satisfied  his  questioner. 
Nor  would  he  confidently  affirm  anything  wherein 
he  might  be  mistaken,  but  remembering  the  say- 
ing of  the  Lord,  **  Let  your  yea  be  yea  and  your 
nay,  nay,"  he  was  careful  to  guard  against  any 
slip  of  the  tongue,  and  to  instruct  others  by  his 
good  example,  and  by  telling  the  plain  truth; 
wherefore  men  trusted  his  word  without  an  oath 
rather  than  that  of  others  whose  tongues  had  the 
evil  custom  of  much  swearing. 


CHAPTER  XXVI 

(•£  Of  three  temptations  that  are  full  of  peril  to 
the  devout 

(0 

/YSTER  FLORENTIUS  being  a  most 
skilful  and  mighty  champion  in  the 
Spiritual  contest  used  to  say  that  there 
were  three  temptations,  perilous  above 
all  others,  which  hidden  beneath  the  cloak  of  good 
motives  do  deceive  many;  and  unless  a  man  re- 
sist these  in  due  time,  that  is  at  the  very  outset, 
they  lead  little  by  little  to  a  final  overthrow,  or 
make  the  indolent  wretchedly  lukewarm.  But 
this  doth  make  the  matter  worse,  that  through 
the  subtility  of  the  devil's  wiles  many  are  too 
heedless  of  such  temptations,  and  scarce  seek  to 
be  informed  by  men  of  prudence  and  knowledge 
as  to  the  greatness  of  the  perils  into  which  they 
may  fall. 

138 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

(2)  The  first  temptation  is  when  one,  newly 
converted,  doth  desire  to  return  to  his  own  country 
and  to  visit  parents  and  friends;  for  such  an  one 
a  return  to  the  world,  on  the  pretext  of  doing 
good  and  in  the  hope  of  converting  worldlings,  is 
often  the  occasion  of  his  neglecting  his  own  soul, 
although  he  may  think  to  gather  fruit  in  his  own 
country.  And  while  he  dallieth  there  amid  vain 
and  inconstant  persons,  he  doth  expose  himself 
to  the  winds  and  waves  of  temptation.  Experi- 
ence hath  often  shown  how  one  that  is  light- 
minded,  and  not  yet  firmly  founded  in  virtue,  when 
he  doth  join  himself  to  them  of  the  world  without 
restraint,  is  either  entangled  by  their  sins,  or, 
under  stress  of  temptation,  doth  grow  cold  toward 
the  good  courses  he  had  begun.  Therefore  is  it 
good  for  a  man  continually  to  flee  from  everything 
that  is  hurtful  to  the  soul,  and  not  to  return  to  his 
country  or  his  friends  unless  some  notable  cause 
compel  him.  Let  him  never  be  presumptuous 
about  himself,  but  be  suspicious  of  this  present 
world  that  is  everywhere  filled  with  poisoned 
snares ;  let  him  follow  the  counsel  and  sayings  of 
his  Superior,  for  this  in  every  case  is  the  safer 
and  surer  way.  Of  ten  men  who  associate  for 
long  with  their  kindred  or  friends,  scarce  one  or 
two  return  unhurt,  and  it  doth  often  happen  that 
they  who  remain  in  the  world,  having  with- 
drawn from  their  good  resolutions  become  even 
worse  and  more  worthless  than  other  men;  and 
rejecting  the  Grace  of  God  blush  not  to  re- 
sume those  evil  courses  which  they  did  once 
despise. 

(3)  The  second  temptation  is  when  one  that  is 
a  layman,  wishing  to  be  a  Clerk,  doth  through 
this  desire  leave  his  lowly  station,  and  retire  from 

139 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

the  holy  Community  in  order  that  he  may  acquire 
learning  and  become  great. 

Wretched  man !  he  knoweth  not  how  evilly  he 
is  deceived  when  leaving  his  lowly  station  and 
obedience  he  seeketh  higher  place.  Such  an  one 
is  soon  puffed  up  by  a  little  knowledge  and  is  slow 
to  become  a  good  Clerk.  God  grant  that  he  be- 
come not  altogether  a  worldling;  that  of  his  own 
motion  and  for  the  sake  of  worthless  learning  doth 
risk  the  loss  of  virtue  and  blacken  the  repute  of  a 
good  name. 

(4)  The  third  temptation  is  when  one  that  is 
already  a  Clerk  and  learned  doth  aspire  to  the 
Priesthood,  to  high  preferment  or  to  any  other 
dignity,  on  the  plea  of  some  holy  motive  such  as 
that  of  being  the  more  able  to  be  of  profit  to 
others,  or  of  teaching  better  or  of  preaching  more 
frequently.  Although  such  an  one  may  seem  to 
have  a  good  motive,  yet  inwardly  he  is  weighed 
down  by  grievous  pride  in  that  he  is  in  haste  to 
go  up  higher  so  as  to  appear  greater  than  his 
fellows.  In  that  he  loveth  not  lowly  subjection 
and  is  unwilling  to  despise  himself,  he  doth  dili- 
gently beseech  his  friends  that  they  recommend 
him  for  promotion,  but  heedeth  not  the  danger  of 
his  own  soul. 

Alas!  when  he  hath  attained  that  little  short- 
lived shadow  of  glory,  gotten  with  a  great  effort, 
an  effort  indeed  far  greater  than  that  which  would 
suffice  to  deprive  him  of  every  honour,  in  how  evil 
a  case  will  he  find  his  conscience. 

(5)  Let  him  who  would  be  delivered  from  these 
three  temptations  pray  God  every  day  to  save  him 
from  pride  and  vain  conceit,  and  keep  him  in  lowly 
subjection  and  perfect  obedience;  for  pride  doth 
make  a  man  to  be  inwardly  blind  and  without  savour, 

140 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

and  outwardly  a  vain  babbler,  presumptuous,  ignor- 
ant of  himself  and  despising  others;  and,  what  is 
worse,  to  seek  lordship  over  others  is  clearly 
enough  a  sign  of  perdition  and  leadeth  to  many 
evils.  When  a  certain  Brother  was  talking  with 
Florentius  in  his  cell  the  Master  said,  amongst 
other  things:  "Ye  should  study  to  give  your- 
selves to  lowliness,  then  may  ye  make  progress 
and  become  worthy  of  the  Grace  of  God." 


CHAPTER  XXVII 

<t£  Of  his  sending  forth  the  Brothers  to  gather 
fruit  in  divers  places 

0) 
LORENTIUS,  being  most  fervent  in  the 
love  of  Christ  and  one  to  whom  to  live 
was  Christ  and  to  die  was  gain,  desired 
to  bear  fruit  in  his  season ;  therefore 
he  took  care  to  be  of  profit  to  many,  that  they 
might  attain  the  Kingdom  of  everlasting  salvation, 
persuading  them  to  despise  this  miserable  world 
that  passeth  away.  To  this  end  he  sent  many 
persons  to  found  several  monasteries  and  new 
houses  for  the  conversion  of  others.  Some  of  these 
Brothers  went  to  Windesheim,  some  to  Mount  St. 
Agnes,  some  to  Northorn,  some  to  Gelders,  some 
to  Holland;  some  became  Priors  of  Monasteries, 
other  Superiors  of  Communities,  and  Confessors 
to  the  Monks  :  and  of  these  there  are  certain  still 
alive  who  knew  this  most  devout  Master  Flor- 
entius, the  beloved  of  God,  while  he  was  yet  living 
in  the  flesh,  and  can  bear  sure  testimony  as  to  his 
saintly  life. 

141 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

(2)  Likewise  the  Holy  Orders  of  Carthusians. 
Cistercians,  and  Benedictines  contain  men  not  un- 
known to  me  who  were  worthy  to  see  and  hear 
both  Florentius  himself  and  his  Brothers  when 
they  tarried  in  Deventer;  these  will  bear  witness 
that  I  speak  the  truth. 

Also  at  the  time  when  this  notable  priest  of 
God  shone  as  a  light  and  flourished  in  Deventer, 
there  were  many  other  devout  priests  in  the  Dio- 
cese of  Utrecht  who  instructed  the  faithful  with 
holy  discourse  and  knew  how  to  bear  strict  rule 
over  Communities  whether  of  Brothers  or  of  Nuns. 
All  these  submitted  themselves  humbly  to  Flor- 
entius with  all  due  reverence,  and  gladly  consulted 
that  angelic  man  in  difficult  cases,  preferring  to 
trust  his  prudence  and  discernment  rather  than 
their  own  judgement.  For  they  saw  that  in  him 
above  all  other  men  the  grace  of  Divine  wisdom 
flourished  pre-eminently,  and  though  he  lived  in 
the  midst  of  crowds  yet,  like  a  lily  of  the  valley, 
bedewed  with  the  water  of  wisdom,  he  kept  the 
whiteness  of  his  purity,  and  far  and  wide  diffused 
the  odour  of  his  good  reputation. 

(3)  At  this  time  also  there  lived  in  the  Diocese 
of  Utrecht  one  Master  Wermbold,  a  famous 
preacher  and  Confessor  to  the  Nuns  of  St.  Cecilia. 
He  was  an  ardent  lover  of  Holy  Scripture  and 
a  great  friend  to  the  reverend  Father  Florentius; 
and  the  common  people  loved  to  hear  and  see 
him. 

At  Amersfoort  there  was  Master  William  Henry, 
the  Founder  of  that  Community  of  Clerks  who 
afterward  became  Canons  Regular.  InZwolle  there 
was  Master  Henry  Goude,  a  notable  preacher,  a 
despiser  of  Mammon,  and  a  humble  Confessor  to 
the  Beguines;  likewise  Master  Gerard  Kalkar, 
142 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

the  Director  of  the  devout  Clerks,  and  an  excel- 
lent instructor  in  virtue. 

In  Holland  there  flourished  certain  famous 
priests,  learned  in  the  Law  of  the  Lord,  and  not- 
able for  their  words  and  deeds,  some  of  whom 
were  fellow  soldiers  with  Master  Gerard  Groote, 
and  very  dear  to  Florentius,  and  these  gathered 
no  small  harvest  for  the  Lord  by  converting  men 
and  edifying  Communities  of  the  Devout.  In 
Haarlem  there  was  Master  Hugo,  called  the  Gold- 
smith, and  his  priests;  in  Amsterdam  Gisebert 
Dow,  the  founder  of  the  two  monasteries,  and  the 
renowned  Director  of  many  Nuns.  In  Medenblic 
Master  Paul,  who  was  altogether  devoted  to  God 
and  a  man  of  probity.  Master  Gerard  has  made 
mention  of  these  in  his  letters,  and  it  was  through 
them  that  the  Devout  Life  first  began  and  made 
progress  in  Holland. 

(4)  Moreover  at  Doesbruch  in  Gelders  there 
was  Master  Derick  Gruter,  a  laudable  man  and  a 
Father  to  many  Nuns ;  he  was  aforetime  a  dis- 
ciple of  Gerard,  and  told  me  many  good  things  of 
him.  It  were  a  lengthy  task  to  mention  by  name 
each  one  of  those  devout  Fathers  who  began  to 
flourish  in  the  time  of  Gerard  and  were  contem- 
poraries with  Florentius;  men  who  taught  us  to 
despise  the  vanities  of  the  world,  and  to  live 
humbly  and  continently,  and  left  to  them  that 
followed  after  a  bright  example  of  holy  conversa- 
tion by  their  patience  and  obedience. 


H3 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 


CHAPTER  XXVIII 

me  Of  his  happy  passing  from  this  world  and  his 
burial  in  the  Church 

(0 

ESUS,  out  ot  his  abundant  kindness, 
doth  stablish  and  redeem  the  faithful, 
and  hath  most  surely  promised  them 
Eternal  life  and  a  full  recompense, 
saying:  "  Everyone  that  hath  forsaken  father  or 
mother  or  other  earthly  ties  for  my  Name's  Sake 
shall  receive  an  hundredfold  and  shall  possess  life 
everlasting."  He  therefore  saw  fit  as  a  reward  to 
the  holy  Florentius  His  faithful  servant — who  was 
adorned  with  many  virtues  and  had  been  proved 
by  divers  burdens  and  infirmities — to  deliver  him 
out  of  the  prison  house  of  this  flesh,  and  to  remove 
him  to  His  own  Kingdom  in  Heaven,  whereat  the 
Angels  did  rejoice. 

(2)  So  when  Florentius  by  his  counsel  and  aid 
had  founded  as  many  devout  Communities  and 
Monasteries  as  he  could  and  had  instructed  the 
lowly  flock  of  his  own  house  in  the  ordinances  of 
peace  and  brotherly  love  according  to  Christ's 
good  pleasure,  and  had  carefully  guarded  them 
therein,  he  began  inwardly  to  sigh  and  ardently 
to  long  to  see  the  citizens  of  the  heavenly  country 
and  the  glory  of  Christ,  toward  Whom  he  had 
confidence  in  all  things,  and  Whom  he  loved  above 
all  else. 

Wherefore  with  true  devotion  he  asked  that  the 

Body  of  the  Lord  should  be  administered  to  him, 

and  gazing  thereupon  with  faith  unwavering,  and 

adoring  the  same  with  the  reverence  that  is  due, 

144 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

he  said:  "Oh!  my  Beloved  Lord  God,  pardon  me 
that  I  have  so  often  touched  and  received  Thee  so 
unworthily."  At  these  words  many  were  pricked 
to  the  heart  and  wept,  and  one  of  the  Canons  who 
heard  his  words  groaned  deeply,  saying:  "Then 
what  should  I  say,  miserable  sinner  that  I  am,  if 
a  man  so  good  doth  feel  and  say  such  things  about 
himself!" 

But  Florentius,  having  received  the  Very  Body 
of  God,  and  being  fortified  with  the  grace  of  Christ, 
gave  himself  up  wholly  to  the  good  pleasure  of 
God,  and  so  long  as  he  could  speak  he  poured 
forth  words  of  most  wholesome  comfort  to  his  be- 
loved Sons  and  Brothers. 

(3)  Amongst  other  things  worthy  to  be  remem- 
bered, he  commended  the  unity  of  Brotherly  Love, 
saying:  "All  who  dwell  in  one  house  should  be 
one  in  thought,  should  hold  one  purpose  in  the 
Lord,  and  should  ever  aim  at  conforming  to  one 
standard,  without  varying,  in  simple  obedience  to 
their  superior.  Wheresoever  the  Brothers  do  strive 
in  fervency  of  spirit  to  be  of  one  mind  and  to  con- 
form themselves  in  all  things  by  the  pattern  of 
Christ's  humility,  there  is  peace,  there  is  spiritual 
progress,  there  is  a  house  well  ordered.  Abide  in 
your  lowly  simplicity  and  Christ  shall  abide  with 
you." 

After  this  holy  exhortation  he  set  one  of  his 
priests  over  the  whole  Community,  lest  they,  the 
Lord's  flock,  should  remain  without  a  director,  and 
being  set  amid  the  waves  of  the  world,  should  be 
as  a  ship  that  hath  not  a  proper  helm;  therefore 
he  set  over  them  Amilius,  a  devout  man,  wise  and 
learned,  and  one  that  was  not  backward  in  zeal  for 
God  and  for  the  salvation  of  souls,  bidding  that 
each  one  of  them  should  have  recourse  to  him, 
145  l 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

and  obey  him  willingly.  When  he  had  quietly 
settled  these  and  other  matters  he  came  to  the  last 
moment  of  this  present  life,  for  his  bodily  weak- 
ness was  increasing. 

(4)  Now  the  most  sacred  Festival  of  the  An- 
nunciation was  at  hand,  for  this  was  the  Vigil  of 
that  Feast,  in  honour  of  the  glorious  Mother  of 
God,  most  Blessed  Mary,  ever  Virgin !  Most  Holy 
Mother  of  Jesus  Christ,  whom  Florentius  the  de- 
vout Vicar  of  her  Son  had  ever  loved  with  deep 
devotion.  So,  after  the  hour  of  Compline,  when 
the  customary  Antiphon  had  been  chanted  in 
honour  of  Our  Lady,  and  the  Angelus  had  rung 
at  the  close  of  day  he  made  an  end  of  his  life  on 
earth  while  the  Brothers  round  him  prayed  with 
sighs  and  tears.  It  was  no  marvel  that  they  did 
so,  for  the  might  of  their  deep  love  constrained 
them  to  weep  when  their  most  beloved  Father, 
the  light  and  mirror  of  all  the  devout,  the  com- 
forter of  all  that  were  troubled,  was  taken  away 
from  the  light  of  temporal  day,  yet  when  they  that 
loved  him  thought  upon  the  sober  and  modest  life 
of  this  most  excellent  priest,  their  pious  faith  did 
comfort  them  with  the  hope  that  glory  in  heaven 
should  not  be  denied  him,  through  Jesus  Christ, 
Whom  he  had  loved  with  all  his  heart,  to  Whom 
he  had  clung  continually  till  the  very  instant  of 
death,  and  served  with  the  full  devotion  of  faith. 

(5)  So  Master  Florentius,  this  Priest  beloved  of 
God  and  man,  passed  from  this  world  in  the  four- 
teen hundredth  year  after  the  Incarnation  of  the 
Lord,  during  the  reign  of  Pope  Boniface  IX,  being 
forty-nine  years  old  as  I  reckon,  or  but  little  more. 
He  lived  in  good  and  holy  conversation  for  nearly 
sixteen  years  after  the  death  of  the  venerable 
Master  Gerard,  and  during  this  time  he  gathered 

146 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

much  fruit  among  the  people  of  God,  in  Deventer 
and  the  whole  Diocese  of  Utrecht.  For  his  laud- 
able life,  let  Christ  Who  adorned  our  time  with  a 
star  of  so  bright  a  lustre,  be  praised  and  glorified 
for  evermore. 

On  the  day  following  the  Canons  and  Clerks 
assembled,  and  the  poor  body,  worn  by  long- 
continued  chastisement,  was  carried  by  the  Canons 
and  Priests  in  procession  to  the  Church  of  St. 
Lebuin  and  there  interred  with  the  rites  proper  to 
burial  and  all  reverence,  before  that  Altar  in  the 
Church  which  is  dedicated  in  honour  of  St.  Paul. 
The  chosen  Priest  of  God,  as  became  a  humble 
servant  of  Christ,  had  himself  desired  to  be  buried 
in  the  Cemetery  with  the  Brothers  who  had  died 
before  him,  and  that  no  further  honour  should  be 
paid  him;  but  that  Reverend  Master  Rambert, 
the  Dean  of  Deventer,  would  by  no  means  allow 
this,  but  determined  rather,  and  that  most  rightly, 
that  he  should  be  buried  with  honour  in  a  pro- 
minent place  within  that  Church  of  which  he  had 
been  a  priest  notable  for  virtue  and  adorned  with 
learning. 

CHAPTER  XXIX 

me  Of  a  vision  which  was  seen  after  his  death,  and 
of  the  great  glory  which  he  attained. 

HERE  was,  in  the  city  of  Gorichem,  a 
certain  man  named  John    Hermann, 
whose  life  was  good  and  his  reputa- 
tion honourable, and  his  wife  was  called 
Jutta.    These  two  did  alike  live  after  the  com- 
mandments of  God,   and  drew  many   others  to 
H7 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

serve  Him;  they  did  often  talk  together  of  God 
upon  holy  days  in  their  own  house,  and  gladly 
snowed  hospitality  to  many  Religious  who  came 
to  visit  them.  Both  of  these  were  well  known  to 
Florentius,  and  learned  from  him  the  manner  of 
holy  conversation,  and  they  set  an  example  of  life 
before  their  neighbours. 

Now  shortly  after  the  death  of  Florentius,  the 
aforesaid  John  did  also  depart  from  this  world, 
and  on  a  certain  day,  Jutta,  who  was  most  devout 
toward  God,  was  occupied  with  prayer  in  her 
chamber.  And  having  finished  her  devotion  she 
arose  to  go  forth  from  her  chamber,  and  as  she 
was  opening  the  door  she  suddenly  heard  the 
window  of  the  room  open,  behind  her. 

(2)  Looking  back  therefore  she  saw  some  one 
enter  by  the  window  who  was  clad  round  with  a 
glory  of  light  and  most  lovely  to  look  upon,  being 
in  face  like  her  husband,  and  she  said,  "  Art 
thou  there,  John,  my  beloved  husband?  "  and  that 
other  replied,  "  It  is  I,  but  call  me  no  more  thy 
husband";  and  Jutta  asked,  "How  is  it  with 
thee?  "  and  he  answered,  "  I  am  saved,  and  I  enjoy 
the  happiness  of  Heaven  and  the  Presence  of 
God."  Then  Jutta  asked,  "And  how  is  it  with 
our  father,  Lord  Florentius?  "  and  he  answered, 
"  Florentius  hath  a  glory  that  is  truly  great;  and 
all  his  works  were  found  to  be  upright  and  good," 
and  he  added,  "  Remain  thou  in  this  house  and 
change  not  thine  abode,  for  thou  shalt  die  ere 
long;  and  tell  this  to  Adelaide  the  daughter  of 
Thomas,  the  Superior  of  the  Sisterhood,"  and  then 
the  Vision  departed.  After  these  things  Jutta  spent 
the  rest  of  her  days,  though  they  were  but  few, 
with  a  heart  so  fervent  toward  God  that  all  worldly 
things  seemed  to  her  but  as  worthless  dung;  and 
148 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

it  is  manifest  by  this  sign  alone,  that  the  afore- 
said vision  was  no  vain  deceit,  but  an  heavenly 
revelation  sent  by  God. 

(3)  When  one  asked  concerning  the  great  glory 
of  Florentius,  it  was  answered  to  him,  "  It  was 
chiefly  because  of  three  virtues.  First,  that  great 
love  which  he  had  toward  God,  referring  to  Him 
as  the  Final  cause  of  all  the  good  things  which  he 
had,  and  in  all  things  seeking  His  Honour  and 
good  pleasure.  Secondly,  that  zeal  for  souls  which 
he  had  toward  his  neighbours,  in  that  he  sought 
the  salvation  of  all,  and  eagerly  led  them  to  God's 
service.  Thirdly,  because  of  his  deep  humility 
and  contempt  of  himself,  in  that  he  always  thought 
little  and  slightingly  of  himself."  These  three 
things  appear  clearly  and  distinctly  enough  in  his 
life,  which  is  here  written,  and  there  are  many 
of  the  faithful  who  are  not  ignorant  thereof. 


149 


A  LETTER  AND 

CERTAIN   NOTABLE  SAYINGS  OF 

FLORENTIUS 


A  Letter  from  Florentius  to  one  of  the  Canons 
regular  at  Windesheim 

0) 

My  most  Beloved, 

HY  dost  thou  trouble  me  thus?  Are 
not  mine  own  miseries  enough  for 
me?  Yet  overcome  by  weariness 
and  yielding  to  thine  importunity  I 
am  constrained  to  write  to  thee  of  matters  that 
concern  me  not.  Firstly,  for  all  these  necessities 
of  thine  I  bid  thee  be  thus  importunate  before 
God,  in  knocking  continually  at  His  door,  and  He 
shall  straightway  open  to  thee  and  give  thee  light 
far  clearer  than  any  man  could  give,  although 
thou  didst  persist  without  ceasing  in  asking  him 
questions,  knocking  at  his  door  and  making  sup- 
plication to  him,  and  he  spent  a  whole  lifetime  in 
writing  to  thee. 

Secondly,  I  urge  thee  above  all  things  to  sub- 
mit thyself  humbly  to  all  men.  It  is  expedient  for 
thee  to  do  this  in  thought,  word  and  deed. 

Continually  remember,  as  the  Blessed  Bernard 
said  to  the  Brothers  on  the  Mount  of  God,  that 
there  is  sunshine  everywhere  save   in   thy  con- 
150 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

science,  and  a  clear  sky  everywhere  save  in  thy 
heart. 

This  humility  doth  come  by  constant  use  and 
by  considering  thine  chvn  worthlessness  in  both 
body  and  soul,  not  by  dwelling  upon  the  faults  of 
other  men  or  making  excuses  for  thyself.  Above 
all  things  be  careful  when  thou  dost  reprove 
another,  not  to  exalt  thyself.  The  Blessed  Jerome 
commenting  upon  St.  Mark,  saith,  "The  blind 
man  who  was  restored  to  light  by  the  Lord  saw 
men  as  trees  walking."  In  like  manner  (saith  he) 
a  sinner  should  think  that  all  men  are  higher  than 
himself.  So  do  thou  look  upon  all  the  Brothers 
as  being  trees  for  loftiness  compared  with  thy- 
self. In  thy  work  take  upon  thee  the  baser  and 
menial  tasks,  and  from  time  to  time  think  upon 
thine  own  vileness,  or  else  meditate  of  death, 
punishment,  judgement,  or  any  other  thing  that 
may  abase  thee  or  kindle  thy  love  for  God  and 
thy  neighbour.  For  the  object  of  such  meditation 
should  be  either  to  acquire  this  love,  or  to  root 
out  thy  vices,  or  to  attain  virtue. 

(2)  Thirdly,  as  St.  Bernard  saith  to  the  Brothers 
on  the  Mount  of  God,  once  daily  compare  to-day 
with  yesterday,  that  thou  mayest  judge  thy  pro- 
gress in  virtue,  or  thy  backsliding. 

Learn  to  sit  in  judgement  upon  thyself  once  or 
twice  every  day,  to  set  thy  life  in  order,  to  regu- 
late thy  conduct,  to  accuse,  condemn,  or  exact 
punishment  from  thyself.  I  counsel  thee  to  keep 
to  hand  "  The  Mirror  for  Monks  "  or  "  The  Mirror 
of  Saint  Bernard,"  that  thou  mayest  order  thy 
doings  thereby.  The  contents  of  this  book  thou 
shouldest  repeat  because  in  whatsoever  thou  art 
engaged  these  will  readily  suggest  how  thou 
shouldest  behave  thyself,  and  that  wherein  thy 
151 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

conduct  hath  been  amiss.  Likewise  prevent  all 
thy  doings  with  meditation  and  brief  prayer  as  to 
the  manner  in  which  thou  shouldest  act,  and  this 
will  be  easy  to  thee  when  by  continued  use  thou 
canst  repeat  the  contents  of  the  book. 

(3)  Fourthly,  early  in  the  day  and  after  the 
morning  meal  put  before  thine  eyes  thy  evil  habits, 
and  the  chiefest  of  thy  vices,  and  also  the  virtues 
after  which  thou  wouldest  strive,  and  thus  ever 
renew  in  thy  heart  the  struggle  with  thy  foes — 
the  world,  the  flesh,  and  the  devil;  do  this  nothing 
doubting,  for  they  that  are  with  us  are  more  than 
they  that  are  against  us.  So  wilt  thou  fulfil  the 
precept  of  St.  Bernard:  "In  the  morning  reckon 
with  thyself  for  the  night  that  is  past,  and  take 
heed  to  thyself  for  the  coming  day  how  thou 
wouldest  order  thyiconduct  throughout  its  course." 
The  same  also  saith :  "  For  every  hour  write  down 
the  exercises  thou  shouldest  perform  therein. 
Spiritual  exercises  for  the  hours  of  prayer,  bodily 
exercises  for  the  hours  of  labour,  so  that  at 
Vespers  when  thou  dost  reckon  up  thy  several 
deeds  if  thou  dost  find  any  duty  ill  done,  as  to  the 
manner,  or  the  place,  or  time  in  which  it  was 
done,  it  may  not  go  unpunished  or  unpaid." 

Seek  the  common  good  and  keep  thy  heart  ever 
lifted  up. 

Pray  for  me,  my  Brother,  for  I  have  always 
been  negligent  in  this,  and  fare  thee  well. 

Before  the  morning  meal  meditate  upon  our 
Lord's  Passion:  afterward  of  death,  judgement, 
and  the  pains  of  Hell:  after  supper  think  on  thy 
vices  and  thy  sins. 


52 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 


Certain  notable  Sayings  of  Master  Florentius 
the  Priest 

(0 

EFORE  all  things  know  thy  vices  and 
thy  passions. 

Be  watchful  against  temptation  and 
the  promptings  of  the  passions.  If  thou 
dost  feel  these  and  instantly  reject  them  they  do 
not  harm  thee.  If  thou  dost  dally  therewith  it  is 
evil;  if  in  addition  to  such  dalliance  thou  dost 
think  with  pleasure  thereupon  it  is  worse. 

Reply  humbly  to  them  that  ask  of  thee. 

Avoid  women,  and  beware  of  looking  upon  them. 
It  is  an  ill  example  to  the  world  to  keep  no  guard 
over  the  eyes. 

Tell  thy  sins  with  shame  and  sorrow,  and  a  full 
intention  to  put  them  from  thee,  in  the  presence 
of  God  and  thy  confessor. 

Tell  thy  faults  one  by  one  saying:  "This  have 
I  done."  Mark  well  in  what  thy  fault  doth  lie,  and 
tell  this  in  simple  words. 

Thou  oughtest  not  to  speak  evil  of  any,  unless 
it  can  profit  thee  or  him. 

When  thou  dost  accuse  another  be  pitiful  as  to 
a  weak  Brother. 

When  thou  doest  nothing  save  that  which  ac- 
cordeth  with  Holy  Scripture,  and  understandest 
the  same  according  to  the  interpretation  of  the 
Saints — not  relying  upon  thine  own  interpretation 
— then  is  thy  conscience  good,  and  thy  reason 
right. 

It  were  good  for  a  spiritually  minded  man  to 
deal  with  his  temporal  concerns  at  an  appointed 
153 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

time,  and   afterwards  to  return  to  his  spiritual 
duties  forgetting  all  else. 

(2)  I  think  that  the  thoughts  and  promptings 
which  come  into  our  hearts  are  not  under  our  own 
control, — but  it  is  in  our  power  to  plant  good  in 
the  heart  by  reading,  prayer,  and  meditation  until 
these  promptings  to  what  is  unlawful  are  overcome 
and  yield,  and  by  the  grace  of  God  do  cease. 

The  pride  of  some  is  such  that  they  must  always 
rule  over  others,  or  else  altogether  fall  away  and 
return  to  the  world — for  they  know  not  how  to 
put  themselves  on  an  equality  with  others,  nor 
how  to  submit. 

Oftentime  the  whole  body  is  affected  by  the 
passions  which  do  rule  a  man,  though  he  know 
not  the  cause  of  his  emotion.  There  was  one  that 
in  the  summer  could  not  sleep,  nor  eat  well,  and 
at  first  he  could  not  discover  the  cause  thereof, 
but  he  afterward  found  that  it  was  through 
melancholy.  Thus  do  our  passions  conceal  them- 
selves within  us. 

The  weak  should  not  judge  the  acts  of  their 
Superiors;  for  such  judgements  are  often  wrong. 

Keep  nothing  secret,  whether  it  be  a  material 
thing  or  a  thought,  but  reveal  all. 

Speak  seldom  with  a  man  of  the  world,  but 
when  thou  dost,  direct  him  to  that  which  is  good, 
according  to  his  condition. 

(3)  Avoid  worldlings,  great  folks  and  revellers. 
If  thou  art  about  any  lowly  or  menial  work  before 
other  men,  revile  it  not;  to  do  so  showeth  pride, 
as  if  such  work  were  not  meet  for  thee. 

Learn  to  understand  thy  prayers,  and  thus 
wandering  thoughts  shall  be  driven  away. 

Loud  singing  doth  disturb  the  brain  and  the 
senses,  and  doth  put  out  devotion. 
154 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

In  praying  thou  oughtest  to  desire  the  grace 
and  mercy  of  God  rather  than  any  great  outward 
gifts — Mary  thought  herself  unworthy  of  the 
salutation  of  the  Angel,  and  being  filled  with  the 
Holy  Ghost  went  up  into  the  hill  country  and 
ministered  to  Elizabeth.  Any  one  that  hath  aught 
to  say  to  a  great  king,  would  make  to  himself 
friends  of  them  that  are  near  to  the  king.  So  should 
one  do  in  regard  to  Mary,  who  is  in  a  special 
degree  very  near  to  God. 

All  things  would  become  pleasant  to  one  who 
should  exercise  himself  well  by  meditating  upon 
our  Lord's  Passion. 

We  ought  to  raise  our  heart  to  heaven  without 
ceasing,  and  to  return  again  and  again  to  Holy 
Scripture,  and  to  sigh  that  we  are  so  carnal  and 
sluggish  in  seeking  the  good  that  is  eternal.  By 
too  great  haste  is  devotion  lost.  Therefore  avoid 
mere  repetitions,  and  do  all  things  with  attention 
and  thought,  not  from  habit  only. 

(4)  When  thou  art  bidden  to  do  something 
that  is  hurtful  to  the  body  remember  that  thy  body 
is  not  thine  own,  but  His  to  Whose  obedience  thou 
hast  surrendered  thyself. 

In  whatsoever  degree  a  man  hath  given  his 
goods,  whether  of  the  body  or  of  the  soul  to  the 
Community,  in  that  same  degree  hath  he  part  in 
the  goods  of  the  others. 

Love  equally  in  the  Lord  all  who  are  converted; 
the  absent  alike  with  those  that  are  present  with 
thee.  Avoid  doing  aught  to  which  honour  is 
attached,  and  aught  of  which  thou  mayest  vainly 
boast,  if  it  may  be  done  equally  well  by  another; 
and  if  anything  may  be  so  done  by  another  or  in 
some  other  place,  love  to  have  it  so,  and  praise  it 
more  than  if  it  were  done  by  thee. 
155 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

Be  not  envious  that  another  is  holier  than  thou, 
or  hath  higher  fame,  but  love  the  gifts  of  God  in 
him  and  they  shall  be  thine  own. 

Nothing  doth  quench  the  sins  of  the  flesh  so 
well  as  earnest  study;  get  the  habit  of  remaining 
in  thy  cell  and  reading  thy  book ;  compel  thyself  to 
do  so  until  it  doth  become  pleasant  to  thee,  and  to  go 
out  seemeth  a  hardship,  to  come  in  a  delight.  Flee 
to  thy  cell  as  to  a  friend,  for  thou  art  safe  therein. 

Whensoever  a  man  talketh  with  his  fellows,  he 
ought  to  strive  to  impress  lowliness  upon  them. 

Worldly  knowledge  is  very  alluring;  therefore 
let  a  man  beware  that  he  be  not  too  much  attracted 
thereto;  let  him  earnestly  desire  to  pass  over  to 
God  by  means  of  such  knowledge,  and  not  be 
satisfied  therewith  as  an  end  in  itself. 

(5)  The  devout  and  venerable  Father  often  said 
to  his  friends  and  Brothers:  "  How  good  it  is  for 
you,  and  how  stably  do  ye  stand  in  that  ye  are 
able  to  live  under  obedience !  "  If  he  had  known 
this  before,  he  would  not,  he  said,  for  anything  in 
the  world  have  begun  by  ruling  over  others  unless 
he  had  himself  first  lived  under  obedience — and 
unless  it  were  that  bodily  weakness  hindered  him 
he  would  wish  still  to  be  under  some  strict  Master 
who  would  altogether  break  down  his  will. 

Also  if  he  were  under  obedience  he  would  never 
be  perplexed,  for  every  man  ought  to  put  the 
burden  of  his  doubt  upon  the  back  of  another:  he 
ought  to  humble  himself  beneath  all  who  are  con- 
verted, even  beneath  the  young,  for  he  knoweth 
not  how  much  grace  God  may  have  given  to  them. 

No  one  can  ever  attain  true  humility  unless  he 
is  despised  by  others  and  is  not  regarded  in  any- 
thing.   It  were  better  to  be  trodden  under  foot 
than  to  consent  to  the  praise  of  others. 
156 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

When  any  of  the  Brothers  doth  ask  counsel  of 
thee,  thou  oughtest  humbly  to  tell  him  the  precepts 
thou  hast  read,  for  it  is  better  always  to  follow  the 
direction  of  others  than  thine  own,  unless  thou 
seest  that  some  better  course  is  revealed  to  thee 
by  the  humility  of  thy  questioner;  but  in  such 
case  never  ascribe  the  revelation  to  thine  own 
merits.  If  a  man  hath  phantasies,  then  ought  he 
to  lift  his  voice  in  prayer. 

(6)  A  man  ought  to  direct  all  his  exercises  and 
studies  to  the  conquest  of  his  passions  and  weak- 
nesses, for  otherwise  he  doth  profit  little  thereby. 

In  the  hours  of  common  labour  stand  ever  on 
thy  guard,  and  be  careful  of  much  speaking; 
think  of  that  which  thou  hast  read  in  thine  hours 
of  study. 

There  is  no  spiritual  disease  so  great  that  it 
may  not  be  cured  by  true  obedience  if  a  man  hath 
wholly  resigned  himself  he  ought  not  to  be  more 
self-reliant,  nor  more  despondent,  than  his 
Superior  tells  him  to  be.  A  man  ought  often,  and 
day  by  day,  to  resign  himself  to  God  and  his 
Superior;  to  bow  the  knees  of  his  heart  for  pardon 
and  to  obey  with  his  understanding.  I  am  amazed 
that  one  who  is  under  obedience  can  feel  doubts 
in  place  of  being  content.  When  thou  doest  any 
good  act  be  careful  that  thou  do  it  wholly  for 
God's  sake,  and  that  thou  desire  no  other  thing  save 
His  Honour  and  the  edification  of  thy  neighbour. 

When  thou  art  among  the  Brothers  thou  should- 
est  think:  "  Oh!  that  I  might  so  behave  that  none 
should  be  offended  through  me!  " 

Thou  shouldest  seek  the  common  good,  for  if 
thou  dost  begin  by  seeking  thine  own  good  in  that 
which  is  least,  thou  wilt  soon  proceed  to  do  so  in 
greater  things. 

157 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

(7)  Whatever  is  for  the  common  good,  this 
ought  we  to  strive  to  guard  with  care,  as  for  in- 
stance, the  Holy  Vessels  of  the  Altar.  The  books 
of  Holy  Scripture  should  be  guarded  as  the  truest 
treasures  of  the  Church.  In  writing  we  ought  not 
to  seek  to  show  our  own  skill  only,  as  for  instance 
by  writing  a  good  hand,  but  also  the  good  of  all — 
e.g.,  that  the  books  may  be  correct,  well  punctuated 
and  clear,  for  one  cannot  study  to  advantage  in 
bad  or  unfaithful  copies. 

Woe  to  him  who  living  in  a  Community  doth 
seek  his  own,  or  say  that  anything  is  his. 

Woe  to  him  who  so  living  doth  murmur  about 
aught,  or  cause  dissension  in  the  Community:  or 
trouble  it  in  any  manner. 

(8)  If  we  are  one  in  will,  in  savour,  and  in  custom 
in  the  Lord,  then  do  we  truly  dwell  together  in 
unit}'. 

Let  every  man  study  to  conform  himself  to  the 
Community  in  all  his  work  and  conduct;  whether 
it  be  in  reading,  chanting,  eating  or  fasting,  let 
him  not  be  singular.  Nothing  doth  make  a  man 
so  peaceful  as  the  rule  of  never  presuming  to  do 
anything  of  himself,  but  rather  submitting  alto- 
gether to  the  counsel  of  good  men;  and  let  a  man 
always  believe  that  it  is  more  wholesome  that  such 
should  consult  for  him. 

Be  earnest  humbly  to  fulfil  what  is  commanded 
thee,  for  if  thou  dost  desire  to  question  a  command 
thou  shalt  hardly  be  truly  obedient. 

Seek  devotion  with  all  thy  heart  by  diligent 
prayer.  Wandering  thoughts  quench  devotion  as 
water  quencheth  fire. 

Though  thou  art  poor  in  virtue,  and  weak,  thou 
oughtest  not  to  be  cast  down  thereby,  but  rather 
to  humble  thyself  and  think:  "Since  I  have  no 
158 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

great  gifts  I  will  make  the  little  that  I  have  an 
offering  to  God,  as  Mary  offered  a  pair  of  turtle 
doves  and  not  a  lamb.  He  is  truly  a  Brother  and 
friend  who  doth  hate  the  vices  of  another  and  help 
him  to  overcome  them. 

Thou  oughtest  always  to  strive  to  occupy  thy- 
self with  some  good  thing,  and  to  pay  no  heed  at 
all  to  phantasies. 

(9)  It  is  very  dangerous  to  converse  often  or 
associate  with  men  of  the  world  who  have  authority 
and  dignity,  as  Councillors,  Priests,  Canons,  and 
other  wealthy  men.  The  reason  is  that  since  one 
is  naturally  in  awe  of  them  he  doth  often  applaud 
them,  and  give  assent  to  their  words. 

Beware  of  much  speaking,  specially  before 
worldlings,  for  a  man  seldom  speaketh  much  with- 
out afterward  repenting  of  some  rash  word. 

Likewise  abstain  from  jesting  and  loud  laughter, 
for  whatsoever  men  see  thee  to  be  outwardly,  such 
do  they  judge  thee  to  be  inwardly,  though  thou  art 
not  really  so. 

Much  study  is  of  little  profit  unless  it  be  directed 
to  the  amending  of  one's  life  and  to  ordering  one- 
self diligently  in  right  conduct,  for  the  Devil  know- 
eth  many  things  about  the  Scripture  and  yet  is  his 
knowledge  of  no  profit  to  Him. 

If  one  is  slow  and  sluggish  in  spirit  in  the 
morning,  yet  should  he  not  be  despondent,  for 
God  is  able  to  give  him  the  grace  of  devotion  at 
whatever  time  it  may  please  him. 

Preface  thy  labour  with  some  short  prayer. 

(10)  The  servant  of  Christ  ought  to  speak  briefly 
and  in  a  low  tone,  and  to  be  careful  not  to  speak 
when  'tis  not  needful.  If  necessity  compel,  let  him 
go  apart  to  some  private  place  that  is  open  to  him, 
and  consider  whether  it  is  expedient  to  speak. 

159 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

Thou  oughtest  always  to  strive  to  edify  thy 
hearers  by  thy  words,  and  to  draw  them  nearer 
to  the  service  of  Christ:  since  nothing  is  more 
pleasing  to  God  than  labour  for  the  conversion  of 
souls. 

Likewise  we  can  do  nothing  more  hurtful  to 
Him  than  by  making  another  to  offend  by  our 
bad  example,  or  loosing  him  from  His  service, 
for  this  is  worse  than  to  have  crucified  Christ  in 
the  flesh  as  did  the  Jews. 

Before  thou  doest  anything  thou  oughtest  to 
strive  for  purity  of  heart,  and  to  apply  thyself  to 
pious  meditation,  because  from  this  doth  spring 
Charity,  prayer  and  devotion;  and  all  the  other 
virtues  are  strengthened  thereby. 

Never  be  idle,  but  be  busied  with  some  occupa- 
tion, especially  some  holy  one,  directing  all  thy 
motives  and  thy  work  to  the  service  of  God. 

(l  l)  A  portion  of  the  Spirit  is  better  than  much 
knowledge  without  devotion:  for  to  acquire  the 
trick  of  beautiful  language  is  easy,  but  to  find  the 
way  to  good  works  is  hard. 

Whatever  a  man  may  have  done,  let  him  know 
that  he  hath  gained  nothing  if  he  doth  not  feel 
himself  to  be  made  thereby  the  humbler;  when 
thou  doest  aught  that  is  good,  do  it  in  simplicity 
and  purity  of  mind  to  the  honour  of  God,  and 
seek  not  to  advantage  thyself  in  any  way. 

From  heedlessness  in  word  come  troubles, 
offences,  and  slanders.  Look  therefore  to  what  thou 
doest,  why  thou  doest  it,  and  in  what  manner. 

That  by  which  God  is  angered  and  thy  neigh- 
bour offended  is  no  slight  matter. 

Before  thou  dost  begin  any  work,  set  before 
thee  how  thou  wouldest  behave  thyself  therein, 
and  do  not  lightly  break  this  rule. 
160 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

Hasten  to  thy  cell  and  thou  shalt  recover  the 
devotion  thou  hast  lost. 

(12)  When  two  or  three  converse  together  let 
each  one  see  to  it  that  their  talking  go  not  for- 
ward to  what  is  profitless,  but  if  this  should 
happen  thou  oughtest  to  say  charitably  and  hum- 
bly, but  without  shamefacedness,  "  Brother,  it  is 
not  expedient  for  us  to  talk  any  more;  let  us  go 
to  our  cell  and  do  something  better."  The  servant 
should  strive,  so  far  as  in  him  lies,  to  turn  his 
heart  away  from  the  creature  and  from  all  earthly 
longings ;  the  more  one  doth  progress  in  this,  the 
more  doth  the  desire  for  the  love  of  God  increase. 

(13)  If  any  would  make  good  progress,  let  him 
study  to  do  violence  to  himself,  that  is,  let  him 
strive  to  overcome  his  vices;  for  example,  if  he 
formerly  desired  lofty  things  he  should  now  seek 
lowliness;  and  so  forth  in  the  case  of  other  vices. 

One  that  is  truly  obedient  ought  never  to  think 
slightingly  of  a  command,  even  though  it  may 
seem  a  small  matter.  When  the  Devil  seeth  us 
lowly  and  one  in  heart,  then  verily  doth  he  flee 
from  us,  because  he  is  the  father  of  pride,  and  of 
discord. 

We  ought  not  to  pay  heed  to  our  neighbour  for 
his  beauty  or  his  wealth,  but  for  that  he  is  re- 
deemed by  the  Blood  of  Christ. 

The  servant  of  God  should  strive  to  keep  peace 
and  concord  with  the  Brothers;  for  this  do  the 
angels  love  more  than  aught  else  and  this  do  they 
more  gladly  see  in  us,  namely,  that  we  are  each 
and  all  peacemakers  and  one  in  heart. 

(14)  The  servant  of  Christ  should  never  feel 
safe,  whatever  good  he  may  do,but  be  ever  fear- 
ful about  himself,  lest  perchance  he  may  be  found 
a  reprobate  before  our  Lord  Jesus. 

161  M 


THE  LIFE  OF  FLORENTIUS 

Before  all  things  he  should  strive  to  think  all 
other  men  holier  and  better  than  himself. 

Devotion  is  nothing  else  than  the  desire  of  the 
soul  toward  God. 

If  a  man  earnestly  endeavour  to  act  humbly, 
however  little  he  may  follow  our  custom,  yet  shall 
it  be  counted  to  him  for  obedience.  But  if  he 
neglect  this  and  care  not  for  it  I  fear  that  he  shall 
be  punished  severely. 

(15)  One  that  doth  desire  to  make  progress  in 
humility  must  often  set  before  him  hard  and 
menial  tasks,  chide  himself,  judge  and  condemn, 
and  in  his  secret  thoughts  ponder  over  his  own 
worthlessness  so  as  to  be  able  patiently  to  bear 
contempt  when  humiliations  come  upon  him. 

When  thou  dost  feel  envy,  or  suspicion,  or  vain- 
glory arising  in  thy  heart,  reply  inwardly  thereto 
and  say:  "Fie  upon  thee  that  thou  art  still  so 
wretched  and  weak  and  that  thou  dost  go  for- 
ward less  than  other  men,  and  dost  become  con- 
tinually worse." 

Thus  humble  and  confound  thyself  inwardly 
and  the  temptations  of  the  Devil  shall  flee  from 
thee,  for  it  is  he  that  doth  inspire  these  evil  pas- 
sions. We  ought  to  expend  great  labour  in  striv- 
ing against  carnal  things  if  we  wish  to  conquer 
them. 

We  seldom  or  never  eat  but  the  Devil  lieth  in 
wait  for  us. 

Wherefore  let  us  ever  watch  and  pray,  because 
the  Adversary  never  sleepeth,  but  doth  assault  us 
on  every  side. 


162 


£MZ*g*0$B 


LIVES  OF  THE  FOLLOWERS  OF  FATHER 
FLORENTIUS 


LIVES  OF  THE  FOLLOWERS  OF 
FATHER  FLORENTIUS 


PREFACE 

The  Elder  Brother 
NABLED  by  the  gift  of  God  I  have 
now  in  my  account  of  these  vener- 
able fathers  and  illustrious  men 
Master  Gerard  and  Father  Floren- 
tius  described  certain  of  their  ver- 
tuous  deeds,  using  that  unpolished 
style  to  which  the  poverty  of  my  genius  doth 
compel  me.  It  remaineth  in  the  next  place  to  set 
down  as  they  come  into  my  mind  such  memorials 
of  their  followers  as  may  avail  to  instruct  in 
humility  the  lives  and  characters  of  simple 
brethren. 

These  men  followed  Christ  by  the  narrow  way 
that  leadeth  unto  life,  manfully  treading  under 
foot  the  pomp  of  the  world,  and  the  softness  of 
the  flesh,  so  that  they  are  not  unworthy  to  be 
compared  to  the  luminaries  of  heaven,  for  by  their 
virtues  they  enlightened  a  vast  multitude  of  faith- 
ful people  whom  they  unceasingly  exhorted  to 
165 


PREFACE 

good  deeds  during  their  lifetime.  Wherefore  one 
may  not  keep  silence  as  to  their  godly  conversa- 
tion in  Christ,  but  must  set  forth  their  deeds, 
which  are  worthy  of  veneration,  for  the  instruction 
of  the  little  ones. 

Novice 

I  earnestly  entreat  thee  that  in  speaking  of 
men  so  notable  thou  show  me  at  least  some  few 
sparks  of  their  devotion  that  I  may  be  enkindled 
thereby  to  the  love  of  virtue,  seeing  that  I  may 
set  before  me  a  new  standard  of  life  when  I  hear 
of  the  conduct  of  men  of  our  own  time.  For  many 
poets  have  written  of  the  deeds  of  the  heathen  so 
as  to  profit  their  readers  in  this  manner,  and  how 
much  more  oughtest  thou  for  the  consolation  of 
the  devout  to  set  forth  the  example  of  these  ser- 
vants of  God  who  have  triumphed  over  the  world, 
so  that  the  good  may  go  forward  continually  to 
better  things,  and  the  sluggish  be  roused  the  more 
quickly  from  the  slothfulness  of  the  body. 

The  Elder  Brother 

If  thou  deignest  to  hear  me  I  will  tell  thee 
somewhat  that  shall  edify  thee  not  a  little  at  this 
present  time.  I  will  set  before  thee  the  lives  of 
men  who  had  not  only  the  reputation  of  virtue 
but  in  addition  to  that  reputation  led  lives  illus- 
trious by  virtuous  deeds.  Yet  now  (fie  upon  it) 
there  are  some  who  having  deserted  their  first 
enthusiasm,  love  to  wander  abroad,  delight  in  vain 
talking,  prefer  their  own  wisdom  to  the  primitive 
institutions  of  our  Fathers,  and  to  justify  the 
satisfaction  of  their  own  desires,  employ  cunning 
arguments  in  place  of  obeying  the  Holy  Law.  Do 
thou  above  all  things  avoid  this  foolish  presump- 
166 


PREFACE 

tion  and  follow  the  humble  character  and  habit  of 
those  approved  fathers  who  in  our  time  were 
illustrious  in  Deventer  under  the  rule  of  our 
reverend  Father  Florentius. 

May  grace  be  given  me  to  set  forth  those  things 
which  tend  to  edification,  that  this  present  dis- 
course may  so  instruct  simple  and  humble  brethren 
that  all  those  who  desire  to  follow  Christ  in  the 
Devout  Life  may  entirely  lay  aside  care  for  this 
world,  and  study  in  the  fervour  of  their  devotion 
and  their  obedience  to  the  law  of  holy  simplicity 
to  exhibit  that  same  zeal  which  these  devout  and 
virtuous  men  exhibited  in  their  earnest  preaching. 


167 


LIFE  OF  JOHN  GRONDE 


CHAPTER  I 

<t£  Of  the  first  Congregation  of  Clerks  in 
Deventer 

(i) 

HE  righteousness  of  good  men,  as 
reason  doth  dictate,  everywhere 
deserveth  due  praise.  For  those 
who  lived  lives  worthy  of  praise 
ought  not  after  their  death  to  be 
given  over  to  forgetfulness.  The 
deeds  of  such  should  be  held  in  remembrance  if 
only  for  the  consolation  of  them  that  survive  ;  and 
should  be  set  up  as  a  pattern  to  other  faithful 
people.  Wherefore  it  behoves  us  above  all  to  com- 
mend those  who  studied  to  serve  God  in  humility 
and  devotion  in  the  House  of  our  reverend  Father 
Florentius  from  the  time  of  the  foundation  of  that 
House,  and  remained  with  all  constancy  under 
the  rule  of  holy  obedience  with  great  fervency  of 
Spirit  unto  their  lives'  end.  Yet  I  do  not  purpose 
to  write  of  the  virtues  of  all  of  them,  a  thing  which 
is  by  no  means  possible,  but  as  concerning  several 
169 


JOHN  GRONDE 

of  them  I  desire  to  record  a  few  things  that  are 
within  mine  own  knowledge. 

(2)  When  I  had  come  to  study  in  Deventer,  in 
the  days  of  my  youth,  I  sought  the  way  to  the 
Regulars  at  Windesheim,  and  having  found  there 
the  Canons  Regular,  amongst  whom  was  my 
brother,  I  was  led  by  his  advice  to  approach  that 
most  reverend  man  Master  Florentius,  who  was 
Vicar  of  the  Church  of  Deventer,  a  devout  priest, 
whose  most  excellent  fame  had  already  reached 
the  Upper  Provinces,  and  had  drawn  my  mind  to 
love  him:  for  a  great  multitude  of  scholars  used 
to  praise  him  for  his  conduct  of  holy  things.  Both 
his  appearance  and  his  words  confirmed  his 
righteous  reputation,  and  he  was  in  favour  in  the 
sight  of  all  men,  for  indeed  he  was  a  true  wor- 
shipper of  God  and  most  devoted  in  his  reverence 
for  our  Holy  Mother  the  Church. 

When  I  came  into  the  presence  of  the  reverend 
Father  he  kept  me  for  a  while  with  him  in  his 
house,  being  moved  thereto  by  fatherly  affection ; 
and  he  placed  me  in  the  School,  and  besides  this 
gave  me  the  books  which  he  thought  I  needed. 
Afterwards  he  obtained  for  me  a  lodging,  at  no  cost 
to  myself,  with  a  certain  honourable  and  devout 
matron,  who  often  showed  kindness  to  me  and 
many  other  Clerks.  So  being  associated  with  this 
man  who  was  so  holy,  and  with  the  Brothers  of 
his  Order,  I  had  their  devout  lives  daily  in  my 
mind  and  before  my  eyes,  and  I  took  pleasure  and 
delight  in  the  contemplation  of  their  godly  conduct, 
and  in  the  gracious  words  which  proceeded  from 
the  mouths  of  these  humble  men.  Never  before 
could  I  recollect  to  have  seen  such  men,  so  devout 
and  fervent  were  they  in  the  love  of  God  and  of 
their  neighbour.  Living  in  the  world  they  had  no 
170 


JOHN  GRONDE 

part  in  the  life  thereof,  and  seemed  to  take  no 
heed  to  worldly  business.  Remaining  at  home 
they  laboured  carefully  in  copying  books,  being 
instant  continually  in  sacred  study  and  devout 
meditation.  In  the  hours  of  labour  they  had  re- 
course to  ejaculatory  prayer  for  their  consolation; 
in  the  morning,  having  said  Matins,  they  went  to 
the  Church,  and  during  the  Celebration  of  Mass 
they  poured  forth  as  an  offering  to  God  the  first 
fruits  of  their  mouth  and  the  aspirations  of  their 
heart,  and  prostrating  the  body  lifted  up  their 
pure  hands  and  the  eyes  of  their  soul  to  Heaven, 
seeking  by  prayer  and  lamentation  to  reconcile 
God  to  them  through  the  Saving  Host. 

(3)  The  first  founder  and  the  Spiritual  ruler  of 
this  notable  Community  was  Master  Florentius, 
who  was  adorned  with  virtue  and  filled  with  Divine 
wisdom  and  understanding  in  his  knowledge  of 
Christ,  because  he,  with  his  priests  and  clerks, 
humbly  imitated  the  manner  of  the  Apostolic  life. 
These  men,  therefore,  having  one  heart  and  mind 
in  God  brought  every  man  what  was  his  own  into 
the  common  stock,  and  receiving  simple  food  and 
clothing  avoided  taking  thought  for  the  morrow. 
Of  their  own  will  they  devoted  themselves  to  God 
and  all  busiedthemselves  in  obeying  their  Rector  or 
his  Vicar,  and  holding  holy  obedience  as  the  high- 
est rule,  strove  with  all  their  strength  to  conquer 
self,  to  resist  the  passions,  and  to  break  down 
their  own  will,  and  besides  this  they  sought 
earnestly  to  be  gravely  admonished  for  any  acts 
of  omission  and  neglect.  For  this  reason  there 
was  in  them  much  grace  and  and  true  devotion: 
and  they  edified  many  by  their  words  and  ex- 
ample ;  likewise,  by  patiently  abiding  the  mockery 
of  the  world,  they  led  many  to  despise  the  same, 
171 


JOHN  GRONDE 

and  those  who  had  formerly  contemned  them  and 
considered  their  life — which  was  without  honour 
— as  a  folly,  afterward  being  converted  to  God, 
and  having  experienced  the  grace  of  devotion,  were 
compelled  by  their  consciences  to  confess  openly 
that  these  men  were  truly  servants  and  friends  of 
God. 

(4)  Many  persons  therefore,  both  men  and 
women,  despising  worldly  felicity,  were  converted 
to  the  Lord,  and  were  instant  to  keep  His  com- 
mandments and  to  practise  acts  of  mercy  to  the 
poor  with  Christian  devotion,  relying  upon  the 
counsels  of  the  beloved  Father  Florentius.  All 
the  Brothers  of  his  Order  helped  him,  holding  fast 
to  the  Word  of  Life,  for  they,  like  the  luminaries 
of  Heaven,  gave  light  to  a  world  growing  old, 
dwelling  in  the  midst  of  the  turmoil  thereof.  Some 
who  were  priests  and  were  learned  in  their  know- 
ledge of  the  Divine  Law,  preached  earnestly  in 
the  Church,  and  by  their  preaching  faithful  people 
were  wholesomely  instructed  to  the  practice  of 
pious  deeds  and  the  hearing  of  holy  discourses. 


CHAPTER  II 

*£  Concerning  John  Gronde 

HERE  was  in  those  days  at  Deventer  a 
devout  priest,  named  John  de  Gronde, 
who  was  born  in  Octmesheim  inTwent. 
This  man,  well  known  by  repute,  elo- 
quent as  a  preacher  and  pre-eminent  amongst 
the  Clergy  by  reason  of  his  character  for  chastity, 
was  quietly  content  to  serve  the  Altar  as  a  simple 
Priest. 

172 


JOHN  GRONDE 

For  a  time  he  thus  lived  in  the  Province  of  Hol- 
land, but  then  the  venerable  Master  Gerard  Groote 
procured  that  he  should  be  sent  to  help  him, 
writing  as  follows  to  the  priests  who  were  then 
earnestly  serving  the  Lord  in  Amsterdam,  for  he 
was  joined  to  them  by  a  special  bond  of  love :  "  Be 
it  known  to  you,"  said  he,  "  that  the  township  of 
Deventer  standeth  in  urgent  need  of  a  good  priest 
to  assist  the  Religious  by  hearing  confessions,  for 
we  have  none  such  for  our  need.  Wherefore,  I 
pray  you  if  there  be  no  serious  hindrance  to  the 
Holy  Church  in  Amsterdam  that  our  beloved  John 
Gronde  may  be  transferred  to  us  from  you,  for 
doubtless  he  will  be  profitable  to  us;  moreover 
his  position  here  will  be  most  suitable  to  him, 
since  it  was  for  this  purpose  only  that  he  was  or- 
dained, namely,  to  succour  those  that  are  truly 
converted  to  the  Lord,  for  this  is  the  holiest  of  all 
tasks,  and  we  shall  receive  him  most  joyfully  and 
gladly." 

(2)  He  came,  therefore,  to  Deventer  to  Master 
Gerard,  and  being  kindly  received  by  him  he  lived 
a  humble  and  devout  life  with  the  Community, 
dwelling  in  the  ancient  House  of  Florentius  with 
the  Brothers  who  first  formed  that  holy  Congre- 
gation ;  and  being  fervent  in  spirit  it  was  his  wont 
to  rouse  the  Brothers  to  prayer  very  early  in  the 
morning,  saying,  "  Arise,  watch  and  pray  that  ye 
enter  not  into  temptation."  He  remained  in  the 
same  house  until  the  death  of  Master  Gerard, 
after  whose  happy  departure  he  went  to  the  House 
of  the  Sisters,  and  dwelt  in  Gerard's  cell.  His 
solemn  voice  was  often  heard  preaching  the  Word 
of  God  in  the  Church  at  Deventer,  and  Florentius 
was  sometimes  present,  reverently  hearing  his 
preaching,  listening  intently  and  earnestly  to  the 
173 


JOHN  GRONDE 

sweet  and  divine  discourse  which  proceeded  from 
his  mouth,  for  his  voice  was  sonorous,  penetrating 
the  ears  of  men  and  piercing  their  hearts. 

(3)  Sometimes  also  he  went  to  Zwolle  to  com- 
fort the  devout  Brothers  and  Sisters.  During  one 
season  of  Lent  he  often  preached  there,  and  once 
on  Good  Friday  he  expounded  our  Lord's  Passion 
in  a  most  earnest  manner  for  above  six  hours, 
allowing  a  short  interval  in  the  middle  of  his  ser- 
mon to  restore  the  strength  of  his  hearers.  When 
of  his  brotherly  love  for  them  he  sojourned  at 
Zwolle,  he  heard  confessions  from  some  of  the  de- 
vout, giving  wholesome  remedies  to  the  penitents, 
and  persuading  them  to  abide  by  their  holy  resolu- 
tion, for  many  were  found  in  that  place  who  were 
eager  to  serve  God,  and  happily  their  number  has 
been  increased  until  our  own  time.  So  anxiously 
was  this  devout  preacher  sought  after,  and  so 
gladly  was  he  heard,  that  even  when  he  was  in  the 
Guest  Chamber  and  was  sitting  at  meat  he  would 
not  deny  the  Word  of  Salvation  to  those  who 
sought  him,  but  while  he  was  refreshing  the  body 
he  also  administered  to  them  that  were  heartily 
contrite  medicine  to  heal  their  souls  of  those  sins 
which  they  had  confessed  to  him.  In  so  doing  in- 
deed he  followed  the  example  of  Christ,  who  as 
He  sat  at  meat  graciously  accepted  the  penitence 
of  the  most  blessed  Mary  Magdalene;  and  when 
Simon  thought  wrongfully  of  the  penitent  con- 
futed him,  and  directed  him  aright,  giving  a  wise 
reason  for  the  pious  deed  which  she  had  done  for 
Him. 

(4)  Also  he  went  at  times  to  the  Brothers  at 
Mount  St.  Agnes  to  hear  their  confessions,  for 
they  were  at  this  time  poor  and  had  no  priest,  and 
he  said  to  them:  "  Let  it  not  seem  to  you  a  hard 

174 


JOHN  GRONDE 

thing  to  follow  a  God  of  humility,  for  by  a  little 
toil  ye  may  gain  His  Kingdom." 

After  this  he  hastened  to  return  to  the  place  of 
his  habitation,  being  unwilling  to  be  separated  for 
long  from  the  beloved  Brothers  of  Florentius,  for 
it  was  his  only  joy  to  live  with  them  and  they  loved 
him  with  all  their  hearts.  In  garb  he  was  simple 
and  in  diet  temperate,  he  flattered  not  worldlings 
for  gain's  sake,  but  as  a  true  preacher  of  the  Gos- 
pel sought  an  usury  of  souls  and  to  promote  an 
increase  of  spiritual  progress  in  these  devout  com- 
munities. Therefore,  inasmuch  as  he  was  a  faith- 
ful minister  of  the  Lord  and  the  day  was  at  hand 
when  he  should  be  called  to  receive  an  everlasting 
recompense  for  his  labours,  he  began  to  be  griev- 
ously smitten  with  sickness. 

(5)  Thinking  he  should  not  live  long  he  had 
himself  carried  to  the  House  of  Florentius  desir- 
ing to  make  an  end  of  his  days  in  the  midst  of  his 
Brethren;  for  he  trusted  that  by  their  prayers  and 
merits  he  would  be  greatly  holpen  at  his  last  hour 
and  faithfully  defended  from  the  snares  of  the 
enemy.  And  by  the  mercy  of  God  so  it  came 
about,  for  the  Most  High  had  compassion  upon 
him,  so  that  he  was  comforted  by  the  presence  of 
Florentius  and  his  Brethren,  and  at  the  bidding  of 
the  beloved  Father  made  an  end  of  his  last  words 
by  saying:  "  In  the  Name  of  the  Lord";  and  thus 
he  committed  to  Him  the  issue  of  his  strife  and 
breathed  forth  the  breath  of  his  life  early  in  the 
morning  about  the  fourth  hour  on  the  day  after  the 
Feast  of  St.  John  before  the  Latin  gate,  namely 
the  7th  of  May  in  the  year  of  the  Lord  1392. 
He  was  buried  in  the  Church  of  the  Blessed 
Virgin  Mary  by  the  side  of  Master  Gerard  and  in 
the  same  grave,  where  they  both  alike  repose  in 
175 


THE  LIFE  OF 

peace.  This  was  fitting,  that  as  they  had  loved 
one  another  in  life,  so  in  death  they  should  not  be 
divided,  but  should  be  buried  in  the  same  Church, 
and  beneath  the  same  memorial  stone,  awaiting 
the  coming  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  to  be  raised 
up  again  by  Him. 


LIFE  OF  JOHN  BRINCKERINCK 

O  this  wrestler  in  the  cause  of  God  there 
succeeded  John  Brinckerinck,  a  native 
of  Zutphen,  and  formerly  a  loved  dis- 
ciple of  Master  Gerard.  When  the 
latter  came  and  preached  in  divers  places  Brinck- 
erinck often  went  with  him  and  was  his  comrade 
upon  the  way,  just  as  Luke  accompanied  Paul. 

By  this  means  he  heard  from  Gerard  many  ex- 
cellent things  and  learned  of  him,  becoming  a  de- 
vout imitator  of  his  deeds  and  a  credible  witness  of 
his  sanctity;  for  he  came  in  and  went  forth  with 
him,  recited  the  Hours,  and  was  careful  in  minis- 
tering to  him  in  other  pious  acts  of  service.  After 
Gerard's  happy  death,  he  lived  humbly  and  de- 
voutly under  obedience  to  the  reverend  Father 
Florentius,  being  most  zealous  in  striving  to  follow 
those  good  principles  which  he  had  imbibed  with 
a  thirsty  heart  from  the  preaching  of  Master 
Gerard.  But  by  God's  ordinance  he  was  promoted 
to  the  Priesthood,  and  remained  in  the  Com- 
munity with  the  Brothers,  labouring  much  in  the 
establishment  of  the  first  House  which  Florentius 
founded  until  at  last  when  John  Gronde  had  died 
he  was  placed  in  charge  of  the  Sisterhood.  Being 
a  man  of  power  and  a  zealous  lover  of  Chastity, 
176 


JOHN  BRINCKERINCK 

he  ruled  the  House  that  was  committed  to  him 
with  all  strictness,  not  sparing  himself  toil,  but 
often  wearying  himself  beyond  his  strength  in  his 
efforts  to  gain  souls.  Sometimes  he  preached  the 
Word  of  God  in  the  Church,  sternly  reproving  sin, 
and  commending  virtue  in  most  excellent  wise,  as 
was  seemly. 

(2)  Twice  did  I  hear  him  preach  upon  our 
Lord's  Passion  on  Good  Friday,  effectually  enough 
and  at  some  length.  His  first  text  was  "  God 
spared  not  His  own  Son,"  the  second  he  took  from 
the  Psalm,  "  What  shall  I  give  unto  the  Lord  for 
all  the  benefits  that  He  hath  bestowed  upon 
me"! 

The  Devout  heard  him  gladly,  but  some  worldly 
men  murmured  against  him  because  he  took  occa- 
sion to  denounce  their  vices ;  yet  he  was  not  made 
fearful  by  reason  of  such  men,  for  he  loved  to 
speak  truth  and  to  strive  for  justice,  choosing 
rather  torvobey  God  and  to  be  of  profit  to  the  good 
rather  than  to  consent  to  evil  men.  Once,  there- 
fore, on  the  Feast  of  the  Circumcision  he  preached 
very  eloquently  and  persuasively  upon  the  Name 
of  Jesus,  exalting  that  sweet  and  blessed  Name 
above  all  names  that  are  in  Heaven  and  Earth. 

(3)  At  length  his  discourse  proceeded  to  de- 
nounce certain  worldly  and  foolish  men  on  the 
ground  that  some,  alas !  named  that  Holy  and  In- 
violable Name  with  too  little  reverence  and  often 
even  in  jest,  and  he  cried,  saying,  "  There  are 
some  who  hearing  this  Sweet  and  Blessed  Name 
Jesus  say  jestingly  and  in  mockery,  "Aye,  Jesus 
is  the  God  of  the  Beguines."  "Oh!  wretched 
men  and  fools,  what  do  ye  say?  Who  then  is  your 
God?  Are  ye  worhippers  of  the  devil  that  ye  call 
Jesus  the  God  of  the  Beguines?  To  you  this  is  a 

177  N 


$THE  LIFE  OF 

great  stumbling-block;  but  to  them  their  great 
honour  and  their  chief  joy  is  this  Holy  Name  of 
Jesus,  Which  they  call  upon  continually  and  rever- 
ence deeply;  and  before  all  and  above  all  the 
names  of  Saints  they  love  and  adore  Jesus  the 
Son  of  God,  Whom  ye  mock  and  despise  because 
these  Brethren  and  Beguines  rejoice  to  call  upon 
His  Name,  devoutly  praise  It,  saluting  one  another 
therein.  Woe  unto  you!  for  that  ye  have  the 
devil's  name  upon  your  lips  more  often  than  that 
of  Jesus  because  He  seemeth  to  you  to  be  too 
humble  and  despised!  "  In  so  saying  he  made 
them  that  loved  Jesus  to  rejoice,  and  confounded 
them  that  mocked  Him  as  they  deserved. 

(4)  But  when  the  number  of  the  handmaids  of 
God  began  to  be  increased,  John,  putting  his  trust 
in  the  help  of  the  Most  High,  built  a  larger  house 
for  them  to  dwell  in,  that  he  might  save  more 
souls  of  them  who  fled  to  Christ  from  the  turmoil 
of  the  world.  At  length  by  great  labour^ he  built 
a  large  convent  for  Devout  women  outside  the 
city  towards  the  north,  in  which  he  received  cer- 
tain Sisters  from  Gerard's  house,  and  caused  them 
to  be  imbued  with  holy  learning,  and  to  be  in- 
vested in  the  habit  of  Regulars  under  perpetual 
vows.  These  Sisters,  and  also  those  who  remained 
in  the  city,  he  ruled  strictly  for  the  remaining 
twenty-six  years  of  his  life,  the  Lord  helping  him, 
but  some  he  sent  to  other  places  to  found  new 
communities.  In  the  beginning  he  found  only 
sixteen  Sisters  living  in  the  community,  but  at  his 
death  he  left  150 — for  God  multiplied  their  num- 
bers in  his  days. 

(5)  The  words  which  he  spoke  to  a  familiar 
friend  bear  witness  that  he  thought  humbly  and 
fearfully  of  himself,  though  he  wrought  so  good 

178 


JOHN  BRINCKERINCK 

a  work.  While  they  were  on  the  way  together  and 
were  speaking  of  the  future  life,  he  said,  "  See, 
Brother,  if  the  Angel  of  the  Lord  came  to  me  now 
and  said,  'Bow  thy  neck,  John,  and  suffer  thy  head 
to  be  cut  off  and  thou  shalt  be  in  purgatory,'  I 
would  gladly  submit  that  I  might  be  assured  of 
Salvation  and  thus  be  enabled  to  die  in  a  state  of 
Grace."  At  another  time  he  said  in  his  preach- 
ing: "  How  great  and  exalted  is  the  priestly  office, 
whose  dignity  scarce  any  mortal  man  can  worthily 
support!  If  I  could  put  off  the  garb  of  my  priest- 
hood as  readily  as  I  put  it  on  I  would  straightway 
unfrock  myself  here.  Let  those  who  make  a  boast 
of  their  Holy  Orders  and  pride  themselves  there- 
upon, not  considering  the  obligations  which  they 
incur,  give  heed  to  these  things  and  learn  to  think 
humbly  of  themselves,  and  to  abase  their  hearts 
in  the  fear  of  God ;  for  every  man  will  be  safer 
before  God  in  the  time  to  come  in  proportion  as 
he  is  now  the  humbler  in  himself." 

(6)  This  servant  of  God  underwent  many 
labours  in  his  lifetime,  and  suffered  scorn  and 
reproach  from  the  envious,  but  by  patience  he 
overcame  them  all,  and  giving  the  Glory  to  God 
he  faithfully  finished  the  good  work  he  had  begun. 
The  more  humbly  he  thought  of  himself  the  more 
pleasing  was  he  to  God  and  the  more  souls  did 
he  draw  with  him  to  the  life  of  chastity,  and  so 
when  he  had  laboured  long  enough  and  had  pro- 
duced much  fruit  in  the  vineyard  of  the  Lord, 
which  God's  Right  Hand  had  planted,  the  day 
grew  on  to  eventide  when  he  should  receive  the 
reward  of  his  labours  and  cease  from  all  earthly 
work,  according  to  the  Word  of  the  Lord  Who 
said,  "  Call  the  labourers  and  give  them  their 
hire  ";  for  lo!  he  fell  sick,  being  seized  by  a  great 
179 


THE  LIFE  OF 

and  violent  fever,  and  thinking  that  he  was  about 
to  depart  he  sent  word  to  the  Prior  of  Winde- 
sheim  that  he  was  grievously  sick  and  that  the 
end  of  his  days  was  at  hand.  And  when  the  Prior 
came  he  explained  his  earnest  wishes,  committing 
the  care  of  the  Sisters  to  him  as  unto  a  faithful 
steward,  that  he  might  provide  for  them  in  the 
matter  of  a  suitable  Rector,  lest  their  new-born 
zeal  for  obedience  might  perish  through  neglect 
or  disuse. 

(7)  So  the  Festival  of  our  Lord's  Annunciation 
dawned  and  passed,  and  on  the  next  day,  i.e., 
March  26th,  John,  that  faithful  servant  of  Christ, 
panting  for  a  heavenly  country,  gave  up  his  soul 
to  the  God  Whom  from  his  youth  he  had  striven 
to  serve  with  the  whole  strength  of  his  body.  He 
died  in  the  year  of  the  Lord  1419,  when  that 
reverend  Lord  Frederick  de  Blanckenheim  ruled 
over  the  diocese  of  Utrecht,  a  noble  bishop  and  a 
pious  and  renowned  patron  of  all  devout  persons. 
He  was  buried  in  the  convent  of  the  Sisters  of  the 
Order  of  Regulars  at  Diepenheim  in  the  middle 
of  the  choir  before  the  High  Altar  which  he  had 
himself  built  and  consecrated  to  the  honour  of  the 
Blessed  Virgin  and  St.  Agnes. 

Novice 

I  gratefully  receive  what  thou  sayest;  happy  is 
Deventer  that  she  hath  been  adorned  by  such 
priests;  but  I  pray  thee  pursue  the  way  which 
thou  hast  now  begun,  and  hide  not  from  me  those 
things  which  I  have  not  yet  heard. 

The  Elder  Brother 

The  fervency  of  thy  petition  doth  compel  me  to 
narrate  certain  other  things  which  are  unknown  to 

180 


JOHN  BRINCKERINCK 

thee.  Yet  how  can  a  mind  that  is  weighed  down  of 
its  own  evil  tell  anything  in  worthy  wise  about  the 
virtues  of  men  made  perfect?  But  since  for  love's 
sake  I  have  begun  this  task  hear  also  what  fol- 
loweth.  I  will  tell  my  story  briefly,  lest  a  lengthy 
discourse  cause  the  reader  weariness-  Seek  not 
any  adornment  of  style  in  my  words,  but  rather 
edification  of  character  drawn  from  the  lowly  con- 
versation of  these  Devout  Brethren. 


LIFE  OF  LUBERT  BERNER 

<t£  Concerning  Lubert  Berner 

(0 
MONGST  those  who  in  earlier  days 
gave  light  to  the  devout  in  De venter 
there  shone  one  Lubert  the  son  of 
John  Berner,  a  native  of  Zvvolle.  He 
was  a  priest  whose  character  was  truly  humble 
and  entirely  obedient;  that  his  life  was  earnest 
in  Christ  is  known  to  me  and  to  divers  of  the 
Brethren  of  Windesheim,  Mount  St.  Agnes,  and 
the  Fountain  of  the  Blessed  Virgin  near  Arnheim, 
of  whom  many  survive  unto  this  present,  but  some 
are  fallen  asleep  in  the  Lord. 

What  can  I,  poor  creature  that  I  am,  say  of  so 
great  a  man  as  to  whose  life  such  a  multitude  of 
the  devout  bear  witness?  Nay,  even  men  of  the 
world,  magistrates  and  councillors,  as  well  as 
those  who  at  that  time  were  canons  and  vicars  at 
Deventer  knew  him  for  a  man  of  great  virtue; 
that  he  was  so  may  be  proved  by  his  many  acts 
of  humility,  some  of  which  I  will  bring  forward 
181 


THE  LIFE  OF 

here  as  examples,  and  as  it  were  sweet  smelling 
branches  sprung  from  a  good  tree. 

(2)  When  this  Lubert  was  in  the  flower  of  his 
youth,  and  had  learned  the  rudiments  of  the  art 
of  grammar,  he  went  with  some  companions  of 
his  own  age  to  the  University  of  Prague,  and  soon 
having  taken  his  Bachelor's  degree  returned  to 
Zwolle,  where  his  friends  received  him  with  great 
joy.  Not  long  afterwards,  attracted  by  the  kindli- 
ness of  the  Devout  Brothers,  his  heart  was  softened 
by  the  inspiration  of  God  to  the  amending  of  his 
life,  and  resolving  to  be  the  servant  of  Christ  he 
retired  from  the  world  (but  secretly,  because  his 
parents  and  friends  were  opposed  to  his  design) 
and  gladly  exchanged  worldly  pursuits  for  spiritual 
warfare.  He  came  to  Deventer  to  Florentius,  who 
was  then  in  the  full  vigour  of  his  holy  life,  and 
being  received  with  fatherly  love  he  learned  wholly 
to  renounce  the  pomps  and  cares  of  the  world 
and  to  imitate  the  lowly  life  of  Christ.  He  sub- 
mitted himself  beneath  the  yoke  of  obedience  with 
the  fervour  of  his  whole  heart,  and  was  zealous  in 
taking  hold  upon  the  discipline  of  the  new  life,  and 
offering  himself  daily  as  a  living  sacrifice  to  God 
he  quickly  rose  to  the  highest  perfection  by  break- 
ing down  his  own  will. 

(3)  But  Berner,  his  father,  who  was  a  powerful 
Councillor  at  Zwolle,  took  it  ill  that  his  son  had 
become  a  follower  of  Florentius,  and  turned  to  so 
owly  a  condition  of  life,  so  he  sent  several  mes- 
sengers to  dissuade  Lubert  from  his  holy  purpose, 
thinking  that  he  was  utterly  astray  in  thus  fool- 
ishly relinquishing  his  parents  and  worldly  wealth. 
But  Lubert  being  constant  in  mind  stood  unmoved, 
choosing  rather  to  follow  the  counsel  of  Christ 
than  to  do  the  will  of  his  earthly  father,  for  God 


LUBERT  BERNER 

is  greater  than  man,  and  hath  bidden  us  to  love 
Him  above  all  things,  saying :  "  He  that  loveth 
Father  or  Mother  more  than  Me  is  not  worthy  of 
Me."  Meanwhile  it  happened  that  his  father  fell 
sick,  and  his  weakness  was  very  heavy  on  him  so 
that  he  could  not  even  speak.  Therefore  Lubert 
was  bidden  to  come  quickly  if  he  desired  to  see 
him  alive ;  for  through  God's  mercy  the  father  in 
his  utmost  need  was  to  receive  the  counsel  of 
salvation  through  his  son.  So  he  went  in  haste  to 
his  father's  house,  to  further  the  salvation  of  his 
soul,  being  filled  with  filial  sympathy  for  his  sick- 
ness and  remembering  the  commandment  of  the 
Lord  rather  than  the  injury  which  had  been  done 
formerly  to  himself. 

(4)  So  he  who  had  lately  fled  before  his  father's 
persecution  now  visited  him  safely  when  he  was 
sick,  and  spoke  gently  to  him  whose  opposition 
he  had  lately  endured;  but  the  father,  looking 
upon  his  beloved  son,  was  greatly  rejoiced  at  the 
sight  of  him,  and  wonderful  to  say,  though  he  had 
been  dumb  and  unable  to  open  his  mouth,  he  now 
for  joy  began  to  speak. 

Forthwith  he  sought  pardon  from  Lubert  and 
begged  him  of  his  mercv  to  forgive  him  for  that 
he  had  once  sought  to  hinder  him  from  walkiu^ 
in  the  way  of  God.  And  Lubert  overflowing  with 
love  gladly  forgave  him  all.  So  the  father  being 
reconciled  unto  his  son  now  followed  more  whole- 
some counsels,  and  not  wishing  Lubert  to  be  de- 
frauded of  his  patrimony,  ordered  all  those  things 
to  be  given  him  which  fell  to  him  by  the  right  of 
succession.  These  things  he  set  in  order  during 
his  lifetime  that  after  his  death  he  might  find 
mercy  from  God  and  be  effectually  assisted  by  his 
son's  prayers.  A  few  days  afterwards  he  died,  and 

183 


THE  LIFE  OF 

Lubert,  remembering  his  kindness,  poured  forth 
fervent  prayers  with  many  tears  for  him,  and  he  did 
not  take  the  portion  which  fell  to  him  to  be  ex- 
pended upon  his  own  desires  but  delivered  it  all 
into  the  hands  of  Florentius  to  be  spent  in  the 
pious  service  of  the  Brotherhood. 

Florentius  did  not  keep  the  goods  entrusted  to 
him  for  his  own  use  but  laid  them  out  in  the  build- 
ing of  the  House  and  in  paying  the  expenses 
thereof.  This  is  that  Monastery  of  Florentius, 
which  is  distinguished  by  being  called  after  his 
name  and  by  the  favour  of  the  Councillors  of  the 
State  was  founded  for  a  Community  of  Religious 
Clerks  in  the  year  1391. 

(5)  In  the  same  year  Lubert  and  his  friend 
Henry  Brune,  who  was  a  devout  man,  were  ordained 
to  the  priesthood.  These  two  were  as  twin  brethren, 
having  been  nurtured  in  that  House  with  the  milk 
of  holy  devotion,  and  being  adorned  alike  with 
great  virtues  were  thought  worthy  of  the  honour 
of  the  Priesthood.  Both  were  men  who  were  well 
born  as  the  world  judgeth,  and  as  God  judgeth 
pre-eminent  for  their  devotion,  humble,  sober, 
chaste,  kindly,  earnest,  zealous,  loving,  docile, 
simple,  and  obedient. 

(6)  Now  with  regard  to  Lubert  when  he  had 
become  a  priest,  I  will  endeavour  to  describe 
certain  acts  of  his  to  serve  for  examples,  and  these 
I  myself  witnessed  and  have  often  heard  of  from 
the  Brothers.  Once  he  was  sitting  in  his  cell  and 
writing  when  Florentius  sent  to  summon  him,  and 
as  soon  as  Lubert  received  the  message  he  laid 
down  his  pen  and  rose  from  his  seat.  Now  he 
had  reached  the  last  line  of  the  page  and  there 
were  perhaps  three  or  four  words  remaining  to 
be  written;  so  the  Brother  who  was  sent  with  the 

184 


LUBERT  BERNER 

message  said  to  him:  "Write  that  last  line  and 
then  the  page  will  be  finished — thou  hast  time  to 
do  so  before  thou  goest."  But  Lubert  in  the  true 
spirit  of  obedience,  replied:  "I  must  write  no 
more,  but  obey  instantly."  Verily  he  was  another 
Mark,  and  worthy  to  be  rewarded  with  him  of 
whom  it  is  written  in  the  lives  of  the  Fathers  that 
when  summoned  by  his  Abbot  he  would  not  even 
finish  a  letter  which  he  had  begun.  When  his 
business  with  Florentius  was  done  Lubert  returned 
to  finish  his  work  filled  with  the  joy  of  a  good 
conscience  as  the  fruit  of  his  obedience.  Then 
the  other  Brother  told  in  order  all  that  had  hap- 
pened to  Florentius,  who  hearing  of  the  prompt 
obedience  of  Lubert,  praised  him  thus,  saying: 
"  Lubert,  Lubert,  how  well  thou  knowest  what  is 
for  thy  profit  and  thy  spiritual  progress."  So 
diligent  was  he  in  writing  that  when  anyone  spoke 
to  him  he  continued  his  task  while  making  a  fit- 
ting reply. 

(7)  At  another  time  a  scholar  who  wished  to 
write  a  letter  to  his  parents  was  doing  so  by 
Lubert' s  advice  in  his  cell,  and  I  was  present  with 
them.  Then  Florentius  came  in  and  said:  "  What 
do  ye?"  and  Lubert  answered  with  respect,  "My 
companion  is  writing  a  letter  to  his  parents,"  to 
which  that  most  kindly  Father  replied  :  "  Write 
on,  that  thy  name  may  be  written  down  for  Life 
Eternal."  The  young  man  aforesaid  afterward 
became  a  devout  Religious.  Neither  do  I  forget 
the  words  of  my  Father  Florentius  which  he  spoke 
in  Lubert's  cell,  for  a  good  man  out  of  the  good 
treasure  of  his  heart  ever  bringeth  forth  good 
things.  Florentius  was  instant  to  speak  that  which 
should  tend  to  edification,  and  Lubert  his  disciple 
strove  not  to  neglect  aught  which  might  fall  from 
185 


THE  LIFE  OF 

his  master's  mouth,  but  to  fulfil  his  commands 
without  hesitation. 

(8)  One  of  the  Devout  asked  leave  of  Florentius 
to  visit  his  friends  and  relations,  and  as  his  request 
was  urgent  Florentius  gave  him  permission,  not 
wishing  to  make  him  sad.  When  he  returned  from 
his  journey,  having  met  with  many  perils  on  the 
way,  he  came  to  Lubert,  the  servant  of  Christ, 
and  said:  "  I  wonder  that  Father  Florentius  so 
readily  gave  me  leave  to  revisit  mine  own  country, 
since  so  many  dangers  meet  a  man  in  the  world," 
and  Lubert  answered:  "  If  Father  Florentius  had 
known  that  thou  wert  strong  enough  and  able  to 
submit  thy  whole  will  to  his  good  pleasure  he 
would  have  spoken  otherwise  to  thee.  But  he  con- 
descended to  thy  petition  and  desire  from  love  of 
thee,  lest  of  thine  own  motion  thou  shouldst  ven- 
ture upon  something  even  worse.  The  blame 
therefore  resteth  with  thee  and  not  with  him  for 
his  consent."  Then  that  other  replied:  "It  is 
good  for  me  to  know  this,  and  for  the  future  I  will 
look  to  it  more  carefully  that  I  do  what  I  am  told, 
following  the  counsel  of  him  that  hath  the  govern- 
ance of  me ;  "  for  he  acts  foolishly  who  doth  follow 
his  own  desires  against  the  good  pleasure  of  his 
superior,  as  is  shown  in  this  instance,  and  the  ex- 
perience of  many  doth  bear  a  like  testimony. 

Novice 

(9)  I  gladly  hear  of  these  patterns  of  holy 
obedience;  God  grant  that  being  taught  by  this 
example  I  may  for  the  future  beware  of  being 
satisfied  with  mine  own  judgement,  and  may 
always  incline  myself  to  obey  my  Superior.  But 
besides  these  things  I  would  hear  somewhat  of 
the  humility  of  this  devout  man,  for  if  he  had 

186 


LUBERT  BERNER 

not  been  humble  he  would  not  have  obeyed  so 
quickly. 

The  Elder  Brother 

(10)  It  is  fitting  that  I  should  tell  thee  some- 
what of  this  matter,  for  to  consent  to  one  who  for 
a  pious  purpose  doth  make  such  a  request,  doth 
tend  to  edification  and  doth  gain  favour  in  no 
small  measure  with  the  Almighty. 

This  Lubert  of  happy  memory  was  indeed 
humble,  humble  in  heart,  in  garb,  in  deed,  and  in 
word,  as  the  following  instances  shall  show.  He 
was  wont  to  praise  the  virtues  of  others  somewhat 
highly,  to  think  himself  of  less  account  than  any, 
and  to  speak  with  the  poor  and  simple  rather  than 
with  the  rich.  Wherefore  when  a  certain  Clerk 
came  and  asked  him  to  give  him  some  good  coun- 
sel for  the  amending  of  his  life,  Lubert  replied: 
"  Good  Brother,  what  can  I,  a  slothful  and  profit- 
less man,  say  to  thee !  Go  to  that  Brother  yonder, 
and  he  shall  instruct  thee  better.  For  I  am  like  a 
vessel  made  to  dishonour  which  may  never  be 
washed  clean,  but  must  ever  send  forth  a  foul 
savour." 

The  Brother  hearing  this  went  away  much 
edified  and  said  to  his  companions :  "  How  humble 
a  man  is  Lubert !  " 

(11)  There  were  two  Clerks  talking  to  one 
another  of  Lubert,  and  one  of  them  said:  "  I  think 
that  he  weareth  too  austere  an  aspect;  gladly 
would  I  speak  to  him  sometimes  but  I  dare  not;  " 
to  which  the  other  answered:  "  If  it  seem  good  to 
thee  I  will  tell  him  of  it  and  perchance  he  may 
amend  himself."  The  Clerk  therefore  came  to 
Lubert,  and  said:  "I  would  fain  have  some  talk 
with  thee,"  and  Lubert  said,  "  Say  on."   Then  that 

187 


THE  LIFE  OF 

other  said  to  him:  "  Some  are  offended  in  thee 
because  thou  dost  walk  with  such  austerity,  and 
dost  look  sourly  upon  them,  wherefore  they  dare 
not  to  approach  thee  and  speak  with  thee.  I  pray 
thee  be  more  complaisant  and  kindly  affectionate 
in  thy  manner  of  speech  that  they  may  come  freely 
to  thee."  Then  the  humble  Lubert  answered: 
"Most  gladly  will  I  amend  myself  through  the 
Grace  of  God,  and  I  thank  thee  that  thou  hast 
admonished  me."  From  that  hour  he  was  as  it 
were  another  man,  and  he  looked  more  cheerfully 
upon  those  who  approached  him,  though  he  main- 
tained a  due  and  proper  gravity. 

(12)  Once  when  the  Brothers  were  gathered 
together,  Florentius  questioned  them  concerning 
a  certain  matter  in  the  Holy  Scriptures,  and  as  the 
others  were  silent,  Lubert,  because  he  was  the 
eldest  amongst  them,  began  to  speak.  But  Flor- 
entius, who  wished  to  humble  him  before  them 
and  to  prove  his  spirit,  said,  with  a  grave  air: 
"  Thinkest  thou  that  we  are  ignorant  of  what  thou 
sayest  we  who  are  Bachelors  and  Masters  in 
Arts?  "  and  Lubert  humbly  replied:  "  I  was  pre- 
sumptuous; "  for  this  was  his  wont  when  he  was 
reproved  for  any  small  fault,  that  he  did  not  ex- 
cuse himself,  but  rather  confessed  himself  to  be 
blameworthy,  saying;  "I  was  in  fault,"  or  "ne- 
gligent," or  "  careless,"  or  "  foolish,"  or  "  stupid," 
or  "  idle,"  or  something  of  the  like  nature ;  con- 
fessions which  proclaimed  his  own  humility  and 
edified  the  Brothers. 

(13)  When  he  read  aloud  during  meal  time  he 
would  make  mistakes  of  set  purpose  that  he  might 
be  corrected  by  the  Brother  whose  duty  it  was  to 
do  so,  and  sometimes  he  pretended  not  to  have 
heard  that  he  might  be  corrected  yet  more  fully, 

188 


LUBERT  BERNER 

for  he  desired  to  be  put  to  confusion  and  to  be 
held  a  dullard  for  not  being  able  to  read  better. 
But  Gerard  of  Zutphen,  whose  duty  it  was  to  cor- 
rect such  errors  at  meal-time,  perceiving  that  his 
mistakes  arose  not  through  ignorance  only  but 
through  his  virtue  of  humility,  abstained  from 
correcting  him  a  second  time.  He  had  a  manly 
voice  as  of  a  trumpet,  and  read  in  very  seemly 
wise. 

(14)  One  of  the  Brothers  asked  Florentius  this 
question:  "Why  dost  thou  not  reprove  me  and 
chasten  me  as  thou  dost  Lubert  and  John  Ketel 
our  cook?  Would  it  not  be  good  for  me  that  thou 
shouldest  sometimes  so  chasten  and  reproach 
me?"  But  the  good  Father,  filled  with  the  virtue 
of  sound  judgement,  answered:  "If  I  knew  that 
thou  wert  as  strong  for  all  good  as  they  I  would 
prove  thee  in  like  manner:  but  these  two  are  of 
such  a  character  that  through  reproof  they  go 
forward  yet  further  and  do  not  murmur  against  it, 
but  become  thereby  yet  more  humble  and  fervent 
in  spirit.  For  they  rejoice  in  being  despised  and 
in  bearing  blame  beyond  all  others."  The  beloved 
Father  would  often  reproach  them  to  their  faces 
before  the  other  Brothers,  for  although  he  ad- 
monished them  severely  so  as  to  set  an  example 
to  the  rest,  yet  he  deeply  loved  them,  as  he  showed 
particularly  by  the  many  tears  he  shed  at  the 
time  of  their  death. 

(15)  So  to  this  Lubert  as  a  good  and  wise  man, 
virtue  was  truly  of  a  pleasant  savour,  and  the 
passions  and  concupiscence  of  the  flesh  were  things 
to  shudder  at,  for  he  strove  to  overcome  the  fro- 
wardness  of  his  nature,  and  in  like  manner  he 
stirred  up  others  to  fight  manfully  against  their 
sins. 

189 


THE  LIFE  OF 

(16)  Once  when  he  was  speaking  devoutly  and 
earnestly  with  certain  of  the  Brothers  about  con- 
quering the  passions,  they  communed  together 
almost  until  the  middle  of  the  night.  Their  hearts 
were  so  kindled  with  the  love  of  God  and  the  de- 
sire to  amend  their  lives  that  they  forgot  them- 
selves and  did  not  perceive  the  mist  of  sleep  but 
put  away  heaviness  from  them,  being  aroused  to 
new  devotion  by  their  ardent  conversation  about 
the  Word  of  God;  for  they  proved  by  their  own 
experience  the  truth  of  that  verse  of  the  Psalmist: 
"Thy  word  doth  burn  vehemently  and  thy  serv- 
ant loveth  it." 

By  thus  communing  together  of  holy  things, 
Lubert  and  those  who  were  summoned  with  him 
to  advance  in  the  Spiritual  Life  were  greatly  in- 
flamed, so  that  afterward  he  would  say  joyfully 
and  longingly  repeat  to  the  Brothers  who  were  his 
comrades  in  arms:  "When!  oh!  when  can  we 
set  ourselves  aflame  once  more !  " 

Novice 

(17)  By  telling  me  this  thou  dost  excite  my 
admiration.  Would  that  I  could  hear  continually 
of  such  matters  which  should  pierce  my  heart  to 
my  healing,  and  enkindle  me.  Would  that  no  vain 
talking  might  interpose  to  defile  my  conscience! 
But  I  pray  set  forth  some  other  examples  from 
the  life  of  this  noble  priest  to  teach  me  to  avoid 
scurrilous  talk,  for  I  confess  that  it  is  no  small  joy 
to  hear  of  their  devout  communing. 

The  Elder  Brother 

(18)  Our  Saviour  Jesus  Christ  saith:  "He  that 
is  of  God  heareth  God's  word,"  and  since  thou 
dost  rejoice  to  hear  and  read  the  things  that  are 

190 


LUBERT  BERNER 

of  good  report  concerning  the  servants  of  God,  I 
hope  this  cometh  of  Divine  grace,  which  thou 
oughtest  to  guard  with  all  diligence,  and  to  incline 
thine  heart  continually  to  humility  and  virtue, 
which  things  were  deeply  rooted  in  Lubert.  Once 
when  he  was  standing  near  the  kitchen  grinding 
mustard,  some  of  his  friends  from  Zwolle  came 
desiring  to  visit  him;  and  when  he  saw  them  he 
was  moved  to  speak  to  them  lest  perchance  they 
might  be  offended  if  they  were  baulked  of  their 
desire  to  talk  with  him — for  they  were  honour- 
able men  and  had  been  appointed  to  the  Magis- 
tracy. So  the  humble  Lubert,  just  as  he  was, 
girt  with  his  apron,  approached  and  saluted  his 
friends  lovingly,  not  being  ashamed  to  appear  be- 
fore them  in  the  dress  of  a  servant,  but  rather 
striving  to  please  God  by  discharging  a  humble 
office.  After  talking  with  them  for  a  short  while 
he  bade  them  farewell  and  returned  to  the  task 
imposed  upon  him,  and  his  friends  went  away 
much  edified  by  his  humility. 

(19)  At  another  time,  when  he  was  at  Zwolle, 
some  friends  were  walking  with  him  and  they  were 
handsomely  clad,  but  he  was  dressed  plainly  in 
his  long  habit  as  a  simple  Brother  should  be.  And 
some  who  saw  this  said  admiringly:  "  See  how  he 
goeth  like  a  lamb  in  the  midst  of  wolves."  Thus 
to  compare  them  was  fitting,  for  their  lives  were 
utterly  diverse.  Once,  in  summer  time,  he  was 
given  a  plain  gray  hood,  old  and  faded,  and 
Brother  Amilius,  who  was  very  friendly  with  him 
and  loved  him  well,  said,  to  prove  him:  "Lubert, 
what  manner  of  hood  is  that  which  thou  hast?  it 
doth  become  thee  ill  enough,  for  it  doth  hang 
about  thy  neck  as  if  thou  wert  in  a  consumption." 
And  Lubert  replied  cheerfully:  "My  Brother, 
191 


THE  LIFE  OF 

what  art  thou  saying?  feel  it  and  see  how  good 
the  cloth  is,  and  do  not  speak  evil  of  it  for  I  am 
not  worthy  to  wear  it."  So  Amilius  hearing  this 
was  edified  by  his  words. 

(20)  Amilius  also  told  me  the  things  following, 
concerning  Lubert,  saying:  "He  was  so  humble, 
and  mortified  his  own  will  so  much,  that  he  would 
submit  even  to  a  little  child,  and  obey  the  least  of 
the  Brothers  in  the  House  as  gladly  as  he  obeyed 
Florentius  himself,  if  the  latter  placed  such  an 
one  in  charge  of  the  House.  He  was  of  none  ac- 
count and  an  outcast  in  his  own  eyes,  so  he 
thought  the  more  highly  of  others,  especially 
those  who  served  the  Brothers  in  the  kitchen.  He 
used  to  say:  "  John  Kettel  and  his  companion  go 
far  beyond  us  in  virtue,  and  they  will  yet  become 
our  superiors,  for  they  put  us  to  shame  for  our 
lukewarmness  and  themselves  do  their  work  with 
all  zeal.  They  seem  to  be  our  servants  but  in  very 
truth  they  are  our  Lords  and  Masters  in  the  Way 
of  God."  It  was  out  of  the  humility  of  his  heart 
that  he  said  this  and  so  instructed  himself  and 
others  in  most  excellent  wise.  He  had  a  good 
knowledge  of  writing  and  rejoiced  to  exercise  this 
art,  for  he  shunned  sloth  and  was  instant  and 
diligent  in  the  labour  of  his  hands,  and  in  induc- 
ing others  to  write. 

(21)  Once  when  a  boy  asked  him  to  set  a  copy 
he  consented  kindly,  and  did  it,  saying:  "Thou 
wilt  learn  to  be  a  good  writer,  for  thou  hast  long 
and  pliant  fingers":  and  by  the  co-operation  of 
God  this  prophecy  was  fulfilled.  He  wrote  in  round 
hand  these  words  as  a  copy  and  as  a  good  motto: 
"  Take  my  yoke  upon  you  and  learn  of  Me,  for 
I  am  meek  and  lowly  of  heart.  For  my  yoke  is 
easy  and  my  burden  is  light." 

192 


LUBERT  BERNER 

These  words  had  the  savour  of  true  wisdom  to 
him,  wherefore  he  put  aside  the  sayings  of  the 
philosophers  and  exhorted  his  pupil  to  follow  the 
humility  of  Christ  which  leadeth  a  man  to  true 
wisdom  and  to  the  attainment  of  everlastingfelicity. 
When  therefore  this  humble  and  devout  priest 
Lubert,  surnamed  ten  Bosche,  who  is  famed  for 
his  many  virtues,  was  about  to  depart  from  this 
present  world,  he  earnestly  besought  the  Brothers 
to  remember  him  in  their  prayers  after  his  death 
by  saying  sometimes  the  prayer  for  the  departed, 
especially  at  the  time  when  they  were  writing  in 
their  cells. 

(22)  When  the  deadly  plague  was  raging  griev- 
ously in  Deventer  and  the  neighbouring  places, 
and  had  taken  away  several  of  the  Devout  besides 
others  from  this  life,  and  had  (as  one  may  piously 
believe)  given  them  part  in  Eternal  Light  in 
Heaven,  it  so  fell  out  that  Lubert  also  was  seized 
with  the  said  plague.  In  the  month  of  July,  three 
days  before  the  Feast  of  the  Blessed  Mary  Mag- 
dalene, he  began  to  be  sick  and  to  keep  his  bed, 
saying  that  he  should  not  abide  here  long.  The 
Brothers  laboured  on  his  behalf  with  many  prayers 
and  sought  means  of  healing  him  from  God,  and 
from  skilful  chirurgeons,  for  all  desired  that  he 
might  live.  But  his  prayer  ascending  to  the  ears 
of  Those  that  dwell  in  Heaven  availed  more  than 
the  longing  of  the  Brothers,  so  when  one  of  them 
said:  "  We  shall  not  long  be  separated  but  shall 
soon  hold  commune  again  in  Florentius'  cell,"  he 
replied:  "Never  again  in  this  world,  but  in  Hea- 
ven and  with  the  Saints,"  for  he  desired  to  be  re- 
leased and  to  be  with  Christ.  So  on  the  Feast  of 
the  Blessed  Mary  Magdalene  he  bade  them  sing 
in  his  presence  the  sequence  "  Laus  tibi  Christe," 
193  o 


THE  LIFE  OF 

and  when  they  had  sung  it  he  said:  "  What  de- 
vout and  fervent  words  are  those";  and  he  re- 
peated this  verse  to  himself  meditatively :  "  What 
should  the  sick  soul  do  if  she  had  received  no 
help,  and  if  there  were  no  physician  there?" 
Many  devout  persons  who  were  present  hearing 
this  wept,  but  he  being  joyful  in  the  Lord  con- 
soled their  grief.         » 

(23)  Brother  Amilius,  who  was  assiduous  in 
ministering  to  him,  carefully  kept  account  of  all 
the  edifying  words  which  he  heard  fall  from  his 
lips ;  and  after  Lubert's  death  he  faithfully  made 
record  of  them,  writing  them  in  order  in  a  letter 
which  he  sent  to  the  Brothers  who  were  absent; 
and  this  letter  I  have  determined  to  insert  here  as 
a  pious  memorial  of  Lubert  that  thereby  his  happy 
death,  and  the  last  moments  of  his  life  maybe  more 
fully  known.  When  about  eight  days  had  elapsed 
since  the  beginning  of  his  sickness  and  he  grew 
no  better,  at  length  wearied  by  his  many  suffer- 
ings he  reached  his  last  hour,  and  filled  with 
divine  comfort  he  fell  asleep  in  the  Lord  joyfully 
and  happily,  surrounded  by  the  Brothers,  who 
kept  watch  over  his  death-bed  with  earnest 
prayers.  He  died  on  the  twenty-sixth  of  July,  the 
day  following  the  Feast  of  St.  James  the  Apostle, 
in  the  year  of  our  Lord's  Incarnation,  1398,  during 
the  reign  of  Pope  Boniface  the  Ninth.  His  body 
was  reverently  buried  in  the  churchyard  of  St. 
Lebuin,  near  that  of  his  companion  John  Ketel — 
that  devout  servant  of  Christ — toward  the  south- 
ern side  of  the  church.  There  several  other 
Brothers,  who  died  as  time  went  on,  were  buried 
near  him,  and  there  they  rest  in  peace. 


194 


LUBERT  BERNER 

An  account  ofLubert's  happy  death  written  by  the 
beloved  Brother  Amilius 

(24)  In  the  Name  of  the  Lord  Amen.  In  the 
year  1398,  after  our  Lord's  Nativity,  and  on  July 
the  nineteenth,  Lubert  ten  Bosche — that  is  Lu- 
bert  of  the  Wood  or  Forest — an  humble  priest, 
and  a  man  of  great  devotion,  was  seized  with  the 
plague.  The  first  two  or  three  days  after  his 
seizure  he  spent  upon  his  bed  in  sleep  or  stupor 
without  consciousness,  as  usually  occurs  in  this 
disease,  and  during  this  time  he  became  so  weak 
as  to  seem  very  near  to  death.  Afterwards,  how- 
ever, he  grew  easier  and  seemed  to  those  who 
stood  by  to  be  like  to  get  better;  but  he  so  bore 
himself  as  one  that  had  a  certain  knowledge  that 
he  should  die,  for  to  some  he  offered  consolation 
and  said  farewell  to  others.  Likewise  he  dictated 
several  letters  to  his  familiar  friends  who  were 
Priests  and  Religious  scattered  about  in  divers 
places,  praying  them  that,  since  he  was  passing  to 
Purgatory  and  the  place  of  suffering,  they  would 
help  him  with  their  Masses,  watchings  and 
prayers.  Then  he  desired  that  the  Brothers  of  our 
House  might  be  assembled,  saying  that  he  thought 
it  profitable  and  fitting  that  he  should  make  his 
peace  with  those  with  whom  he  had  lived  during 
so  many  years,  and  should  ask  their  pardon  and 
forgiveness,  and  so  depart.  So  when  they  were 
gathered  together  he  stood  near,  leaning  upon  the 
staff  which  supported  him,  and  began  thus: 

"  I  have  dwelt  for  so  many  years  in  the  House 
of  Florentius  and  yet  have  amended  my  life  too 
little, nor  have  I  made  that  progress  in  virtue  which 
I  set  before  me  when  I  came  hither.  My  whole 
intent  and  resolution  was  willingly  to  give  myself 
195 


THE  LIFE  OF 

to  all  humiliation,  obedience,  lowliness,  charity, 
and  the  other  virtues,  and  to  submit  to  Florentius 
and  all  the  Brothers ;  but  I  have  not  so  done  as — 
now  that  I  am  about  to  die — I  should  rejoice  to 
have  done.  Nay!  I  have  often  been  a  stone  of 
stumbling  and  a  rock  of  offence  to  you  by  my 
pride ;  "  and  here  he  mentioned  various  other  sins 
of  which  in  his  humility  he  accused  himself. 

(25)  Then,  weak  as  he  was,  he  most  humbly 
prostrated  himself  upon  the  earth,  and  with  much 
humility  and  tears  besought  pardon  from  them 
all.  Who  could  be  so  hard  of  heart  as  to  refrain 
from  tears  to  see  so  great  a  man,  a  Father  and 
Brother  so  loving,  thus  prostrate  on  the  ground 
and  weeping!  Then  rising  and  leaning  upon  his 
staff  he  began  once  more  to  address  the  Brothers, 
exhorting  them  faithfully  and  lovingly  to  keep 
their  unity  and  charity  to  one  another,  and  to 
strive  continually  to  submit  themselves,  and  to  be 
subject  one  to  the  other  in  that  obedience  that  is 
of  love ;  and  he  urged  each  one  to  strive  to  be  the 
least  of  all  and  the  servant  of  all,  to  be  faithful 
guardians  to  one  another,  admonishing  one  another 
in  charity,  correcting  one  another  for  sin  and  evil 
manners  in  brotherly  love,  not  passing  over  or 
approving  any  sin  either  of  commission  or  omis- 
sion ;  so  should  they  attain  true  unity  and  charity 
by  the  rooting  out  of  sin.  He  added,  "  If  ye  thus 
remain  at  unity,  and  thus  act,  ye  shall  have  nought 
to  fear  from  any  man,  and  shall  be  like  to  a  fenced 
city  which  may  not  be  taken,  otherwise  your 
affairs  shall  quickly  come  to  nought,  and  all  your 
strivings  shall  be  nothing  accounted  of,  but  be- 
come as  it  were  vanity  and  foolishness."  After 
this  he  humbly  besought  the  Brothers  to  pray  for 
him  in  faith,  and  to  remember  him  in  all  their 
196 


LUBERT  BERNER 

prayers  as  he  had  confidence  therein  but  par- 
ticularly in  those  supplications  wherein  they  exer- 
cised themselves  during  the  daily  labour  of  their 
hands;  and  so  saying  farewell  to  the  Brothers  he 
let  them  go.  On  the  second  day  he  dictated  a 
letter  in  the  following  terms  to  be  sent  to  Floren- 
tius  and  the  other  Brothers  who  were  absent. 


The  letter  of  the  devout  and  humble  Lubert  to 
Florentius 

(26)  Peace  of  mind  and  every  good  thing  be 
with  thee;  Most  beloved  Father,  I  believe  that  our 
dear  Brother  Amilius  hath  written  to  thee  con- 
cerning my  sickness,  yet  I  write  to  inform  thee 
further  that  from  the  Friday  when  I  fell  sick  until 
the  following  Tuesday  I  lay  in  stupor  and  uncon- 
scious, unable  to  turn  myself  upon  my  bed;  but 
now  since  the  Lord  hath  of  His  goodness  rekindled 
my  poor  intelligence  in  some  measure  I  cannot 
depart  in  peace  out  of  this  misery  without  once 
more  at  least — and  for  the  last  time  in  this  life — 
prostrating  myself  at  thy  feet  and  unfolding  to 
thee  as  to  my  father  my  sufferings  and  the  endless 
pressure  of  necessity  which  doth  particularly  be- 
set me.  For  now  I  must  be  brought  before  the 
dreadful  Judgement  Seat  of  God,  in  the  presence 
of  His  Angels  and  of  them  that  are  our  especial 
Advocates,  confounded  by  those  sins  for  the 
amendment  of  which  thou  hast  often  instructed 
me.  But  I,  alas !  did  not  think  of  those  sins  as 
thou  didst  judge  them,  nor  perceive  how  grievous 
and  terrible  they  are.  Oh!  Father  Florentius,  I 
cannot  before  the  Judgement  Seat  of  God  deny 
what  thine  own  hand  hath  written  to  me  concern- 
ing my  passions,  yet  in  some  measure  it  was  I 
197 


THE  LIFE  OF 

myself  who  by  many  importunate  prayers  con- 
strained thee  to  write.  This  document  I  have  en- 
trusted to  our  beloved  Amilius  to  be  laid  before 
thee,  that  considering  these  and  my  other  offences 
thou  mayest  think  the  more  pitifully  of  the  suf- 
ferings I  must  undergo  in  that  place  of  dread, 
that  place  of  direful  pains,  and  mayest  succour 
me  by  thy  prayers,  of  which  I  stand  in  urgent 
need. 

Most  beloved  Father,  if  I  were  in  thy  presence 
I  would  entreat  thee  with  tears  to  grant  me  true 
and  fatherly  pardon  for  other  offences,  and  espe- 
cially my  disobedience,  lest  I  be  condemned  yet 
more  dreadfully  for  these  sins,  and  I  doubt  not 
that  thou  wouldest  freely  pardon  me. 

(27)  Now  I  will  speak  to  you,  most  beloved 
Brothers,  for  by  your  life  and  conversation^  have 
often  recalled  me  from  my  lukewarmness  and 
sloth  to  the  amending  of  my  life,  and  often  have 
most  lovingly  admonished  me  for  my  passions; 
but — as  ye  know — I,  wretched  man  that  I  am! 
have  not  amended  as  much  as  I  might  and  ought 
to  have  done,  nor  could  your  words  pierce  the 
hardness  of  my  heart  which  would  have  been  for 
my  good,  for  I  knew  not  nor  foresaw  that  as  I  had 
so  lived  in  this  life,  I  must  therefore  be  taken  sud- 
denly to  the  place  of  dreadful  pains,  where  are 
gnawing  serpents,  fierce  lions,  ravening  wolves, 
and  countless  monstrous  devils.  If  I  can  repay  you 
for  all  your  exhortations  and  good  example  I  will 
never  be  backward  in  so  doing  ;  but  this  I  cannot 
do,  for  whatever  small  progress  I  may  have 
made  in  this  life  I  have  made  it  by  the  help  of 
God  and  of  you,  and  I  ascribe  it  not  to  myself. 
And  now  for  all  my  sins  of  neglect  I  prostrate 
myself  before  your  feet  with  heart  and  lips  accus- 
198 


LUBERT  BERNER 

ing  myself  before  God  and  you,  and  praying  for 
pardon  for  every  one  of  them. 

Likewise  I  beseech  you  that  ye  see  to  it  that 
the  day  of  my  death  be  announced  to  those  per- 
sons whom  ye  see  fit  to  tell,  though  I  know  that 
ye  will  not  fail  in  this,  and  that  ye  cause  the  Holy 
Office  to  be  said  and  Vigil  to  be  kept,  with  such 
other  observances  as  may  seem  good  to  you. 
Farewell!  Farewell!  and  again  Farewell  for  ever ! 
all  ye  whom  in  this  life  I  shall  see  no  more. 

(28)  Having  dictated  this  letter  on  the  Vigil  of 
St.  James  the  Apostle  he  sat  down  to  read  it  again 
if  perchance  there  might  be  aught  that  he  wished 
to  add  or  remove  from  it,  but  suddenly  there  came 
upon  him  such  trembling  and  weakness  that  all 
his  strength  went  from  him,  so  they  that  stood  by 
took  him  back  and  laid  him  again  upon  his  bed. 
Soon  afterward  he  began  to  be  so  shaken  with 
violent  pain  and  distress  that  he  cried  aloud  with 
a  lamentable  and  pitiful  voice  and  asked  that  the 
Brothers  of  the  House  and  other  devout  persons 
from  without  should  be  called  together  to  succour 
him  with  their  prayers.  And  when  they  were  so 
called  his  breast  began  to  quake  and  his  whole 
body  trembled  and  was  violently  shaken,  he  grew 
pale  and  sweated;  and  his  eyes  were  distorted  in 
dreadful  wise,  he  groaned  and  gnashed  with  his 
teeth,  uttering  moans  of  distress  and  other  pitiable 
sounds.  Meantime  the  Devout  ran  together  and 
with  many  tears  prayed  earnestly  for  him,  and  he, 
beholding  them,  also  wept  some  little  space. 

(29)  Then  he  signed  to  me,  Amilius,  for  I  was 
continually  with  him,  to  take  away  the  taper  which 
we  had  placed  in  his  hand  supposing  him  to  be 
at  the  point  to  die,  and  to  read  the  Seven  Psalms 
with  him,  for  he  thought  that  he  should  not  die 

199 


THE  LIFE  OF 

yet.  So  he  began  reading  one  verse  with  me  while 
the  other  Brothers  responded  with  the  remainder, 
and  thus  he  continued  to  the  end  with  great  fer- 
vour and  devotion:  and  when  the  Psalms  were 
ended  he  said  "  Let  us  abide  under  the  protec- 
tion of  Holy  Mary,"  so  he  began  the  "  Salve  Re- 
gina  "  and  the  proper  collects,  and  this  Antiphon 
he  repeated  again  and  again  with  great  love  and 
devotion;  saying  the  Collect  and  often  changing 
the  words,  led  thereto  by  these  emotions.  From 
time  to  time  the  power  of  speech  failed  him,  but 
he  continually  began  again  the  same  Antiphon  that 
the  others  might  repeat  it  throughout.  When  this 
had  continued  for  a  time  he  bade  me  tell  the 
Brothers  to  pray  silently  and  with  heartfelt  com- 
punction for  him,  and  then  he  lay  for  a  long  time 
speechless  and  as  it  would  seem  in  great  pain  and 
distress.  But  the  Devout  and  the  Brothers  re- 
mained with  him  all  day  in  prayer  looking  for  his 
death  from  hour  to  hour.  Having  lain  thus  for  a 
long  time  he  called  me,  saying,  "  Brother  Amilius, 
the  power  of  speech  hath  been  restored  to  me. 
Therefore  tell  the  Brothers  and  all  the  Devout 
every  one  of  them  to  recite  the  Psalter  for  me,  and 
at  the  beginning  and  end  of  every  Psalm  to  say 
one  '  Ave  Maria  '  on  bended  knees."  Afterward 
he  said,  "  Tell  them  that  I  care  not  for  a  great 
number  of  Psalms,  let  them  wait  awhile  between 
the  several  Psalms  in  meditation  and  pray  the 
Lord  for  me  with  heartfelt  compunction  lest  their 
minds  be  confused  by  the  number  of  Psalms  which 
they  recite."  When  I  had  told  them  this  he  bade 
me  ask  all  that  were  gathered  together  to  pray 
for  him,  saying  the  Seven  Psalms,  the  Hours  of 
Our  Lady,  and  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  and  anything 
else  they  could  repeat,  continuing  constantly  in 
200 


LUBERT  BERNER 

prayer  with  him,  and  so  to  abide  until  his  death ; 
and  when  I  had  given  them  this  direction  he 
added:  "  Brother,  I  fear  that  I  am  laying  a  heavy 
burden  upon  our  Brothers  and  Sisters,  but  neces- 
sity doth  constrain  me,  for  I  cannot  trust  at  all  in 
myself,  but  lean  greatly  upon  the  prayers  of  the 
Devout.  How  seemeth  it  to  you?"  And  I  com- 
forted him,  bidding  him  be  of  good  cheer,  for  they 
would  most  gladly  do  this  for  him.  Then  from  the 
hour  of  Vespers  or  thereabouts  until  the  eighth 
hour  he  lay  speechless  in  a  great  fever  and  then 
began  to  speak  again  and  became  quite  peaceful. 
(30)  After  awhile  he  called  me  to  him  and  told 
me  how  he  had  fared  during  the  day ;  at  first  he 
said  he  had  suffered  great  and  wonderful  tempta- 
tions, for  there  had  come  to  him  an  evil  spirit  in 
the  form  of  our  Brother  John  Ketel  which  strove 
with  many  devices  to  deceive  him.  This  spirit 
told  him  many  marvellous  things  about  the  Glory 
of  Heaven  and  divers  subtle  and  high  matters, 
many  of  which  were  true  and  conformable  to  the 
Scriptures,  but  therewith  it  mingled  many  things 
that  were  false.  It  also  told  him  many  marvels 
which  he  could  not  explain  for  its  manner  of 
speech  was,  he  said,  that  of  a  spirit,  and  it  seemed 
to  be  conjoined  to  his  own  soul  so  that  it  was  as 
it  were  talking  with  himself  and  his  own  soul  an- 
swered him.  "It  was,"  said  he,  "very  displeasing 
to  this  Spirit  that  I  spoke  to  you  from  time  to  time, 
for  when  I  would  do  so  the  Spirit  said  to  me, 
"  Speak  not  to  the  flesh,  speak  not  to  the  flesh." 
It  was  also  much  displeased  that  I  had  procured 
so  many  prayers  to  be  offered  up  by  the  Devout, 
and  that  I  had  such  confidence  therein.  And  when 
I  asked  you  to  read  the  Psalms  the  Spirit  said 
within  me,  "Dross,  Dross!  why  puttest  thou  thy 
201 


THE  LIFE  OF 

trust  in  these  Psalms?  or  in  Mary,  Gregory, 
Jerome,  and  the  like?  Thou  oughtest  to  put  thy 
trust  in  God;  He  is  angry  with  thee  that  thou 
trustest  in  these  rather  than  in  Him  only — yet  be- 
cause thou  art  fainthearted  and  fearful,  and  hast 
not  done  this  of  malice,  He  is  merciful  to  thee ; 
but  take  heed  that  thou  do  this  no  more.  I,  John 
Ketel,  did  not  thus,  yet  have  I  reached  the  King- 
dom of  Heaven  without  passing  through  Purga- 
tory: "  and  when  I  asked  why  this  was  so  he  gave 
the  two  following  reasons. 

(31)  The  first  was  that  he  had  renounced  all 
temporal  goods  and  riches  altogether,  for  the  sake 
of  God  and  the  Salvation  of  his  own  soul,  and  had 
given  himself  to  so  lowly  a  station  in  life  (i.e.  the 
work  of  the  kitchen),  and  had  never  repented  of 
this  renunciation.  The  second  reason  was  that  he 
had  eagerly  and  zealously  persevered  in  such 
work  without  any  desire  to  return  to  his  former 
state ;  and  also  because  he  had  shown  a  firm  re- 
solution and  great  zeal  to  abide  until  his  death  in 
a  condition  so  humble  and  in  an  office  so  lowly 
(for  this  he  did  that  he  might  be  the  servant  of 
all),  and  had  in  fact  continued  until  his  death  in 
that  office  as  he  had  resolved.  Then  Lubert  said 
to  me :  "  Brother,  I  know  that  what  the  evil  spirit 
told  me  of  our  trusty  and  beloved  Brother  John 
Ketel  was  true,  but  whether  or  no  he  hath  come 
to  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven  without  passing 
through  Purgatory  I  know  not.  That  evil  spirit 
told  me  (added  he)  that  I  also  should  escape  Pur- 
gatory and  pass  to  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven,  and 
when  I  asked  the  cause  hereof,  it  said:  "Thou 
art  a  martyr  in  the  sight  of  God,  because  thou 
hast  laid  down  thy  life  for  thy  Brethren  and  Sisters 
in  that  of  thy  love  and  charity  thou  hast  chosen 
202 


LUBERT  BERNER 

to  remain  with  them  in  so  great  danger  of  death.'' 
Then  the  humble  Lubert  said  to  me:  "Whether 
I  shall  go  to  Heaven,  escaping  Purgatory,  I  know 
not,  though  I  cannot  deny  that  I  abode  with  my 
Brethren  out  of  love  and  charity  to  them;  yet  it 
is  enough  that  the  spirit  strove  with  many  words 
to  induce  me  to  trust  in  mine  own  merits  and 
virtue;  yet  I  have  been  ever  fearful  and  have 
never  trusted  in  myself,  nor  do  I  now  so  trust — 
all  my  confidence  and  hope  is  in  the  mercy  of 
God,  in  the  intercessions  and  merits  of  the  glorious 
Virgin  and  the  other  Saints,  and  in  the  prayers  of 
the  Devout,  wherefore  I  do  rejoice  and  am'glad  that 
many  holy  psalms  and  prayers  have  been  said. 
Sometimes  the  spirit  took  away  from  me  all  my 
senses  save  that  of  hearing,  and  this  too  he  strove 
to  take  away,  but  was  not  able." 

Besides  this  Lubert  told  me  of  many  marvellous 
things  which  the  Devil  had  said  to  him,  of  which 
some  were  heretical  and  contrary  to  the  Faith, 
and  to  these  strove  to  persuade  Lubert  to  assent, 
but  he  mingled  with  his  lies  some  things  that  are 
true.  "  By  these  proofs  I  know,"  said  Lubert, 
"  that  it  was  a  wicked  spirit  which  was  trying  to 
deceive  me,  because  it  ever  mingled  falsehood  and 
lies  with  the  truth.  It  doth  appear  to  me,  there- 
fore, that  it  is  profitable  and  necessary  for  one  who 
is  dying  to  have  some  man  of  understanding — 
like  my  Brothers — at  his  side  until  his  departure." 
These  things  he  told  me  on  the  Vigil  of  St.  James 
the  Apostle  after  the  eighth  hour  in  the  evening. 

(32)  After  this,  weak  as  he  was,  he  continued 
in  great  tranquillity  and  peace  of  heart  until  his 
death,  for  he  earnestly  desired  to  be  released  and 
to  be  with  Christ,  having  a  sure  confidence  and 
hope  in  the  coming  of  our  Lord  Jesus,  the  glorious 
203 


THE  LIFE  OF 

Virgin  Mary  and  the  other  Saints.  In  this  ardent 
longing  he  continued  until  the  day  after  the  Feast 
of  St.  James,  sighing  and  pondering  over  the  Holy 
Psalms,  especially  the  Psalm  of  "Blessed  are 
they  that  are  undefined  in  the  way."  He  often 
asked  how  near  he  was  to  death,  whether  he  showed 
the  signs  thereof,  whether  his  short  breathing 
did  not  portend  death,  and  so  forth :  and  we  could 
give  him  no  better  comfort  than  to  tell  him  the 
end  was  near  at  hand. 

(33)  Sometimes  he  cried  out,  but  with  great 
trustfulness :  "  O  when  will  the  Lord  Jesus  and 
Holy  Mary  with  the  Holy  Angels  come  to  release 
me?  I  trust  that  they  will  not  delay  their  coming. 
Would  that  they  might  deign  to  come  quickly  and 
to  make  an  end!  I  hope  that  I  shall  not  long  abide 
here,"  and  so  forth.  Very  often  he  evoked  Holy 
Mary,  Jerome,  and  Gregory  (for  to  these  he  was 
especially  devoted)  and  other  Saints  to  pray  for 
him,  to  be  present  with  him,  and  succour  him  in 
the  hour  of  death.  He  besought  us  also  to  speak 
a  few  words  to  him  from  time  to  time  and  urge 
him  to  prayer  and  to  the  Invocation  of  Saints; 
but  for  the  rest  to  pray  for  him  in  silence,  with 
sighing  and  tears,  and  to  await  his  death  with 
him,  having  our  hearts  repentant  toward  the 
Lord.  Thus  he  came  to  his  last  hour,  so  fervent, 
so  devoted,  so  ardently  desiring  to  be  released, 
so  lovingly  and  confidently  awaiting  the  coming  of 
our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  the  glorious  Virgin  Mary, 
the  Holy  Angels,  and  the  other  saints — nor,  as  it 
would  seem,  was  he  baulked  of  his  desire. 

(34)  By  this  time  he  was  already  dead  and 
quite  cold  in  all  his  other  members,  and  life  seemed 
to  flutter  only  in  his  tongue  and  breast,  for  there 
was  scarce  one  of  his  limbs  that  he  could  move ; 

204 


LUBERT  BERNER 

but  suddenly,  without  help  from  any  one,  he 
raised  himself  up  by  his  own  motion  and  clasped 
his  hands  and  lifted  them  upward,  keeping  his 
eyes  fixed  upon  the  wall,  toward  which  he  most 
reverently  bowed  his  head  with  all  devotion,  and 
he  lifted  up  his  hoarse  and  broken  voice,  and 
cried  with  all  the  strength  he  had:  "Of  Thy 
Glory,  Thy  goodness,  Thy  mercy,  receive,  oh! 
receive  me !  Of  Thy  Glory,  Thy  Glory,  Thy 
goodness,  Thy  goodness,  of  Thy  mercy,  receive 
me,  receive  me,  oh!  receive  me."  While  he 
sat  upright  he  repeated  these  words  again  and 
again,  and  at  length  laid  him  down  upon  his  bed, 
but  twice  afterward  he  raised  himself  again  with 
the  same  motions  and  gestures,  and  repeated  the 
same  words.  And  again  he  sank  back  and  lay 
seemingly  in  a  deep  stupor  and  amazement,  but 
I  asked  him,  saying:  "Brother  Lubert,  what  is 
it?"  "How  is  it  with  thee?v  and  he  answered 
me,  as  it  were  in  great  amazement:  "Wonderful, 
wonderful,  marvellous,  marvellous,  yea,  great  and 
marvellous  are  the  things  which  I  saw  when  I  sat 
up;"  and  then  he  added,  "Call  the  Brothers, 
call  the  Brothers,"  and,  when  I  called  them,  im- 
mediately he  breathed  his  last,  after  a  short 
struggle,  and  fell  asleep  happily  in  the  Lord,  full 
of  virtue  and  good  works,  for  whom  Blessed  be 
God !  for  ever  and  ever,  Amen. 

From  a  letter  of  Florentius  in  praise  of  Lubert 

(35)  Who  that  knew  our  beloved  Brother  Lu- 
bert would  not  grieve  for  his  death?  who  that 
loved  him  would  not  weep?  who  would  not  mourn 
and  lament  for  our  House  if  he  diligently  con- 
sidered what  ruin  and  calamity  that  death  doth 
205 


THE  LIFE  OF 

threaten  thereto?  What  an  example  of  humility, 
what  a  pattern  of  devotion  to  the  Community  was 
taken  from  us  when  he  died !  Is  any  one  of  us 
who  survive  so  fervent  in  all  the  exercises  of  de- 
votion and  contempt  for  the  world?  doth  any 
promote  the  common  good  as  did  Lubert?  is  any 
consumed  by  godly  zeal  for  our  House  as  he  was? 
Is  there  any  that  doth  so  esteem  himself  as  worth- 
less, lacking  in  wisdom,  insufficient?  a  pattern  of 
all  these  virtues  hath  been  taken  from  us  by  his 
death;  for  this  cause  it  is  just  that  he  who  loveth 
our  House  should  mourn  piously  for  him ;  for  this 
cause  he  doth  weep  that  is  solicitous  for  our  pro- 
gress in  spiritual  things,  and  our  grief  doth  bear 
proportion  to  the  love  we  felt  for  him,  for  the 
more  closely  our  hearts  were  knitted  to  him  the 
more  bitterly  do  they  feel  this  severance.  Verily 
our  heart  and  soul  were  at  one  in  the  Lord  with 
our  most  beloved  Brother:  judge  ye  therefore 
from  that  unity  what  the  pain  of  severance  is,  and 
take  the  measure  of  our  sadness  by  the  abund- 
ance of  our  love.  But  if  ye  desire  a  brief  and  clear 
proof  of  the  measure  of  that  sadness  and  that  pain 
which  were  so  heavy  and  so  grievous  that  we 
could  scarce  read  two  or  three  lines  of  your  letter, 
or  write  two  or  three  in  reply  thereto  without 
shedding  tears  in  such  abundance  as  to  hinder  us 
from  continuing ;  if,  I  say,  ye  would  know  the 
measure  of  our  grief  and  sadness  search  the  depths 
of  your  own  hearts,  all  ye  who  loved  Lubert  even 
as  we  loved  him ! 

Certain  excerpts  taken  from  the  devout  exercises 
of  Lubert 

(36)  Thy  task  shall    be  to    labour  to  uproot 
thy  vices,  and  to  gain  virtue;    but  unless  thou 

206 


LUBERT  BERNER 

dost  resign  thyself  to  God  simply  and  with  all  thy 
heart,  committing  all  else  to  him,  it  will  rather 
engender  presumption  in  thee,  making  thee  hard 
of  heart,  doubtful,  restless  and  cowardly.  Labour 
therefore  with  modesty,  quietness  and  fear,  but 
resign  and  commit  the  issue  to  God  that  He  may 
do  according  as  He  will.  Be  not  sad  nor  down- 
cast if  thou  art  not  able  to  fulfil  thy  purpose,  for 
it  may  be  that  God  doth  will  it  so  lest  thou  should- 
est  trust  in  thine  own  virtue. 

When  thou  prayest  have  no  thought  save  of 
God  and  thy  Psalmody,  considering  that  He  seeth 
thee.  Give  up  thy  will  freely  and  wholly  to  Him, 
and  utterly  put  aside,  so  far  as  thou  art  able,  all 
unnecessary  and  empty  thoughts.  Strive  so  to 
behave  thyself  as  if  thou  wert  standing  alone  in 
the  Presence  of  God,  the  Blessed  Virgin  and  all 
the  Saints;  to  Them  show  thy  necessities  and  the 
wounds  of  thy  soul. 

When  thou  dost  pray,  or  talk,  or  wheresoever 
thou  art,  let  not  thy  thoughts  dwell  upon  the 
Brothers — or  any  others  who  may  be  present — 
for  to  do  so  doth  greatly  distract  thy  thoughts 
from  thyself,  doth  dissolve  the  virtue  of  thy  mind, 
doth  make  thee  bitter  and  suspicious,  doth  darken 
thine  understanding,  doth  engender  forgetfulness 
of  God  and  love  for  the  applause  of  men;  doth 
befog  the  mind  and  disturb  the  conscience.  Keep 
thy  heart  at  peace  and  turned  away  from  shadows 
and  from  sin,  but  turned  toward  God. 

(37)  Let  thine  aspect  be  like  that  of  the  other 
Brothers,  neither  too  severe,  nor  ostentatiously 
cheerful,  and  so  continue  to  comport  thyself  when 
thou  art  alone  within  thy  cell;  and  if  in  anything 
that  thou  doest  thou  art  inclined  to  comport  thy- 
self otherwise,  strive  to  amend  in  this;  so  shalt 
207 


THE  LIFE  OF 

thou  always  do  the  will  of  God  with  a  quiet  mind, 
shalt  guard  thyself  from  thy  vices  and  continue  at 
all  times  cheerful. 

In  every  way  and  in  all  things  beware  of  acting 
hastily,  but  do  everything  deliberately  and  without 
ostentation.  Thou  shouldest  never  speak  harshly 
to  any,  nor  bring  a  railing  or  derisive  accusation 
against  any,  but  rather  implore  and  admonish  him 
as  charity  doth  demand. 

Whenever  thou  art  disquieted  in  mind  bear 
patiently  and  quietly  those  things  that  are  con- 
trary to  thy  nature  and  disposition,  but  for  the 
time  being  strive  not  to  hinder  nor  do  anything  at 
all  in  that  matter  about  which  thou  art  disquieted 
beyond  reason ;  wait  rather  until  God's  grace  and 
thy  peace  of  mind  return,  and  meanwhile  flee  to 
thy  cell  and  to  prayer  because  thou  art  weak  and 
beset,  and  think  "  In  your  patience  ye  shall  possess 
your  souls/'  From  time  to  time  choose  to  be 
alone,  to  labour  with  thine  hands,  to  pray  patiently, 
and  to  act  without  unreasoning  haste.  Always 
choose  such  matters  for  thy  meditation  about 
God  and  the  Holy  Scriptures  as  shall  kindle  thee 
to  the  Love  and  Fear  of  God  or  to  horror  for  thy 
vices. 

(38)  Whatsoever  thou  doest  in  temporal  mat- 
ters, give  not  too  much  heed  to  appearance  and 
outward  show,  but  aim  at  doing  the  Will  of  God 
only  and  commit  everything  to  Him. 

Turn  away  thy  heart  and  thine  eyes  from  men; 
be  constant  to  that  which  is  within  and  forget  that 
which  is  without:  reach  out  to  heaven  with 
prayer,  sighs,  study  and  repentance,  and  whet 
thy  mind  continually  upon  these.  Avoid  ostenta- 
tion and  presumption,  and  put  away  the  images  of 
men  from  thy  heart. 

208 


LUBERT  BERNER 

All  virtue,  all  progress,  doth  consist  in  this,  to 
follow  the  Will  of  God  and  to  please  Him. 

Strive  for  this  that  thine  intention  may  be 
toward  God  and  according  to  His  will,  and  cast 
away  the  passions  of  thy  soul. 

Take  this  as  a  rule  that  cannot  misguide  thee : 
whatsoever  our  Father  Florentius  and  the  Brethren 
may  determine,  that  is  God's  will  for  thee  to  do, 
for  He  doth  dwell  in  them  and  they  seek  nothing 
save  His  pleasure. 

Do  everything  as  Florentius  shall  advise: — and 
if  he  is  absent  act  in  like  manner  by  the  counsel 
of  Gerard  in  all  things  as  if  it  were  the  counsel  of 
God;  for  Gerard  is  far  wiser,  more  humble,  more 
prudent,  more  spiritual,  more  thoughtful  than  thou 
art,  and  his  acts  are  more  in  accord  with  the  Will 
of  God  than  are  thine. 

Thou  shouldest  be  very  careful  to  avoid  the  oc- 
casion of  sin.  Often  when  thou  art  at  peace  thou 
seemest  to  thyself  to  be  somewhat,  but  when  thou 
dost  mingle  with  outward  things  that  which  was 
hidden  in  thee  cometh  to  light — for  this  thou 
oughtest  deeply  to  abase  thyself.  Much  talking 
doth  take  a  man  away  from  himself,  leadeth  him 
into  ignorance,  taketh  away  his  forethought,  and 
doth  bring  forth  confusion.  Therefore  it  is  need- 
ful for  one  who  is  disposed  to  much  speaking  to 
meditate  often,  and  pause  or  check  himself  so  as 
to  think  whether  what  he  shall  say  shall  be  pleas- 
ing to  God  or  whether  it  shall  tend  to  boastfulness, 
love  for  the  praise  of  men  and  vain-glory. 

For  thy  words,  look  to  it  that  they  be  such  as 
are  necessary,  pious  and  profitable ;  but  before  all 
things  that  they  be  in  accordance  with  the  Will  ot 
God.  Thou  mayest  by  no  means  speak  loosely  nor 
by  thy  words  incite  others  thereto. 

209  p 


THE  LIFE  OF 

(39)  Never  speak  hastily  and  mockingly  to  a 
man  of  his  faults  before  others,  for  to  do  this  is  a 
sign  of  pride  and  presumption,  and  is  an  ill  ex- 
ample to  others. 

Learn  to  talk  little,  to  use  but  few  words,  and 
to  speak  with  forethought.  Wait  while  others 
speak,  and  be  careful  lest  thou  listen  to  aught  that 
may  do  thee  hurt. 

Sift  also  the  words  of  every  man  to  find  whether 
they  be  true  or  slanderous. 

Be  firmly  resolved  by  the  Grace  of  God  not  to 
speak  of  the  evil  deeds  of  any,  nor  willingly  to 
hear  of  them  save  to  some  good  purpose,  and  even 
then  be  cautious  lest  thou  be  led  astray. 

Let  it  be  thy  habit  not  to  pour  out  thy  heart  too 
earnestly  upon  anything  whatsoever,  whether  it 
be  a  temporal  or  whether  it  be  a  spiritual  matter; 
but  always  hold  back  modestly  in  fear  of  thine 
own  vices.  Go  forward  with  discretion  and  step 
by  step;  advance  in  due  season  and  never  alto- 
gether retreat,  but  keep  thy  heart  sustained  by 
the  Word  of  God  and  so  bent  backward  as  to  hold 
in  check  all  thy  vices  in  general,  but  especially 
any  one  vice  which  for  the  time  thou  dost  parti- 
cularly fear.  Thus,  by  God's  grace,  with  due 
moderation  and  mature  thought  as  in  His  sight, 
speak  and  do  whatsoever  thou  thinkest  shall  please 
Him. 

In  thine  eating  avoid  greed  and  gluttony;  rather 
restrain  thine  appetite,  that  the  blind  and  con- 
fused desires  of  nature  may  be  enlightened  by  re- 
pentance and  by  a  hunger  to  hear  the  reading. 
Take  some  portion  of  the  reading  and  as  it  were 
ruminate  thereon,  or  similarly  that  portion  of 
Scripture,  "  A  certain  man  made  a  great  supper." 
If  at  any  time  thou  art  disordered  or  oppressed  in 
210 


LUBERT  BERNER 

the  head  after  eating,  then  flee  to  thy  cell,  or  by 
talking  awhile  with  other  men,  strive  for  the  future 
to  be  more  cautious  in  keeping  guard  over  thy- 
self; yet  to  pray  and  flee  is  safer.  "  Happy  is  the 
man  that  feareth  alway ; "  and  know  this  in  very 
truth,  that  when  in  place  of  being  afraid  thou  dost 
fall  into  security,  thou  fallest  away  from  God  and 
art  led  captive  by  devils  and  by  thine  own  passions. 
Yet  thou  oughtest  to  fear  in  such  a  manner  as 
shall  make  thee  trust  the  more  in  God;  the  weaker 
thou  seemest  to  thyself  the  stronger  shall  He  make 
thee.  Therefore  it  is  good  rather  to  trust  others 
and  to  be  fearful  for  thyself.  In  the  things  of  God 
learn  virtue  and  conduct  from  others,  and  fear  to 
boast  thyself; — for  thy  sake  Christ  became  a 
learner;  for  thy  sake  He  held  His  peace. 

(40)  Learn  to  remain  within  and  to  live  the  com- 
mon social  life  amid  the  Brethren  and  the  rest, 
and  think  highly  of  them;  consider  their  virtues 
and  thine  own  vices.  When  thou  art  in  company 
with  another,  always  think  about  some  virtue  of 
his,  and  of  thine  own  lack  thereof,  so  as  to  humili- 
ate thyself  inwardly  for  those  vices  of  thine  which 
are  known  to  God,  to  the  Angels,  and  to  thine  own 
self.  Approach  thy  studies  as  if  to  take  food  for 
thy  soul,  that  she  being  refreshed  by  what  thou 
readest  may  learn  to  be  wholly  occupied  there- 
with, to  forget  temporal  things  and  to  be  held  back 
from  sin.  Also  study  is  of  no  great  profit  unless 
thou  dost  pray  and  so  deal  therewith  as  food  is 
dealt  with  by  the  teeth — otherwise  it  is  but  little 
good.  Therefore  deal  thus  with  it,  and  let  it  pass 
into  thy  soul,  like  food  into  the  belly,  to  be  trans- 
formed into  virtue  and  good  works,  that  the  soul 
may  be  sustained  thereby  as  by  food.  For  as  the 
body  is  refreshed  by  food  so  is  the  soul  by  virtue ; 
211 


THE  LIFE  OF 

thou  oughtest  never  to  study  anything  that  doth 
not  refresh  the  soul,  for  the  fruit  of  study  is  the 
strength  of  the  soul  and  the  gaining  of  virtue.  To 
study  for  the  sake  of  teaching  others  or  for  any 
other  purpose  else  save  as  aforesaid  doth  not 
nourish  the  soul,  but  doth  make  it  unwholesome 
as  superfluous  humours  make  the  body.  Such 
study  doth  engender  vain-glory,  a  heart  puffed  up, 
disorderly  manners,  empty  thoughts,  unstableness 
of  mind,  forgetfulness  and  light  thoughts  of  God, 
love  for  the  praise  of  man,  a  troubled  conscience, 
a  darkened  understanding,  and  it  doth  render  the 
soul  faint  and  weak  rather  than  refresh  it.  Where- 
fore to  study  in  moderation  and  as  it  were  to  chew 
thoroughly  what  thou  readest  doth  better  refresh 
the  soul  than  to  study  many  things  thoughtlessly 
and  without  so  doing.  It  doth  follow  that  that  soul 
is  dead,  or  doth  consume  herself  which  doth  not 
so  digest  the  word  of  God  as  to  convert  it  into 
virtue  and  good  works;  such  an  one  doth  decay 
by  reason  of  divers  lusts  and  the  desire  for  honour, 
and  is  eaten  of  devils  as  the  body  is  of  worms. 

(41)  When  the  clock  doth  strike  bethink  thee 
that  thou  art  in  the  midst  of  thine  enemies,  and 
art  not  sufficient  of  thyself;  therefore  cry  to  God 
and  pray,  saying — "  Forsake  me  not,  O  Lord  God, 
Thou  art  my  God,  depart  not  far  from  me." 
Sometimes  invoke  the  Blessed  Virgin  and  say  the 
Ave  Maria.  Remember  that  God  seeth  thee  and 
that  thy  works  are  presented  before  Him  by  the 
Angels,  whatsoever  good  thou  hast  done,  the  pro- 
gress thou  hast  made,  and  the  evil  thou  hast 
committed.  When  thou  hearest  the  bell,  think, 
"Arise,  ye  dead  and  come  to  judgement." 

Always  strive  to  follow  the  will  of  others  in 
those  things  that  are  not  sinful  or  contrary  to  the 

212 


HENRY  BRUNE 

will  of  God,  and  always  put  aside  thine  own  desire 
and  thine  own  counsel. 

Learn  to  bear  those  things  that  are  vexatious 
to  all  men,  and  to  thee  are  difficult,  though  it  cost 
thee  toil  and  pain;  and  never  answer  any  other 
man  impatiently.  Rather  choose  to  be  pitiful  and 
prefer  excess  in  this  to  overhardness. 

When  thou  dost  ask  a  question  of  thy  Superior 
or  Rector  remember  that  it  is  the  Lord  Who 
dwelleth  in  them  that  speaketh  to  thee  through 
their  mouth  and  declareth  His  will;  think  how 
perilous  it  is  for  thee  to  resist  His  ordinance  that 
is  declared  through  them. 

Think  many  times  of  thy  daily  sins,  from  what 
root  they  spring.  Inordinate  fear  or  too  great  pre- 
sumption do  hinder  thee  every  day. 

To  be  inclined  towards  riches,  pleasures,  high 
esteem,  the  praise  of  men,  the  delights  of  the 
world,  and  thine  own  will ;  to  be  inclined  towards 
these,  I  say,  and  to  do  that  which  is  good  in  thine 
own  eyes,  and  to  avoid  and  think  lightly  of  humility 
is  to  go  back  to  sin,  and  to  be  turned  away  from 
Christ,  and  from  the  rule  of  thy  spiritual  Father; 
for  the  very  road  to  virtue  is  this,  to  resist  sin  and 
humbly  to  obey  one's  Superior. 


LIFE  OF  HENRY  BRUNE 

(0 

OUGHT  not  to  pass  over  one  who  was 
a  man  of  deep  devotion  and  holy  sim- 
plicity, and  a  priest  of  angelic  purity; 
and  I  think  it  fitting  to  place  his  life 
next  in  order  to  that  of  Lubert,  who  was  his  com- 
213 


THE  LIFE  OF 

rade  from  the  first  and  his  most  beloved  fellow- 
priest,  and  to  set  forth  here  somewhat  in  praise  of 
him.  This  is  that  Henry  Brune  who  was  the  com- 
panion of  Lubert;  a  man  beloved  of  God  and  ac- 
cepted of  men;  one  that  was  kindly  to  all  and 
burdensome  to  none.  He  was  born  in  Holland 
and  was  a  citizen  of  Leyden,  being  sprung  from 
honourable  parents  and  lineage.  He,  however, 
counted  the  riches  and  honours  of  the  world  as  of 
no  worth,  and  withdrawing  from  the  sight  of  his 
friends,  sought  the  Lord  in  the  days  of  his  youth, 
and  clave  to  Him  with  a  perfect  heart  even  unto 
his  old  age.  He  remained  under  obedience  in  the 
House  of  Florentius,  in  all  humility  and  meekness, 
hearing  the  confessions  of  the  Devout  and  cele- 
brating Mass  with  great  devotion  and  reverence; 
for  he  lived  in  quietness  and  simplicity  of  heart 
without  a  care  for  temporal  things,  and  dwelt 
amid  the  Brethren  uncomplainingly,  having  a  good 
reputation  throughout  all  Deventer,  and  being 
known  amongst  the  Devout  in  divers  places  as  an 
Israelite  indeed  in  whom  was  no  guile  or  wicked- 
ness; as  one  without  bitterness  like  a  dove  and 
gifted  with  a  singular  innocency  of  life.  His  eyes 
were  ever  looking  to  the  Lord,  and  whensoever  he 
could  be  alone  he  ceased  not  from  prayer  and 
devout  meditation. 

(2)  Once  in  winter  time  he  was  sitting  by  the 
fire,  warming  his  hands,  but  he  turned  his  face  to 
the  wall  and  secretly  continued  his  prayers,  ob- 
serving strictly  the  rule  of  silence.  And  I  when  I 
saw  this,  was  greatly  edified,  and  loved  him  yet 
the  more,  nor  did  I  ever  hear  a  complaint  concern- 
ing him  save  that  he  celebrated  Mass  somewhat 
more  slowly  than  the  others;  and  yet  by  so  doing 
he  drew  many  laymen  to  devotion  when  he  cele- 
214 


HENRY  BRUNE 

brated,  and  this  tardiness  was  readily  excused  to 
him  since  it  sprang  from  his  unwillingness  to  be 
separated  from  his  beloved  Jesus. 

(3)  It  happened  that  one  of  the  faithful  was 
tempted  in  a  matter  of  faith  by  a  secret  assault 
of  the  Devil,  for  he  began  to  have  some  doubt 
concerning  the  Sacrament  of  the  Altar  and  the 
Presence  therein  of  the  Very  Body  of  Christ.  And 
so,  as  he  stood  to  hear  the  Mass  which  this  de- 
vout priest  was  celebrating,  he  often  sighed,  being 
grieved  by  the  wicked  suggestions  of  that  malign- 
ant spirit,  and  he  prayed  to  the  Lord  that  he 
would  deign  to  pity  him  for  his  wavering  mind. 
And  the  merciful  God  who  doth  succour  souls  to 
their  salvation  in  many  and  marvellous  ways,  did 
teach  this  man  and  console  him  comfortably  in 
the  faith  by  showing  him  a  new  and  strange  vision. 
For  he  saw  not  the  Species  of  bread  between  the 
hands  of  the  priest,  but  in  place  thereof  there  ap- 
peared before  him  the  form  of  One  more  glorious 
than  the  sons  of  men;  and  being  greatly  be- 
wildered and  trembling,  he  returned  thanks  and 
blessed  God.  But  the  priest  knew  nothing  of  this 
and  finished  the  office  of  the  Mass  with  the  Bene- 
diction after  the  usual  manner,  for  this  vision  was 
not  shown  for  the  priest's  sake,  for  he  was  full  of 
faith  and  grace,  but  to  strengthen  one  who  was 
weak  in  the  faith. 

(4)  Since  I  am  now  speaking  of  the  Revered 
Sacrament  I  will  also  mention  a  similar  thing  con- 
cerning a  priest  in  the  province  of  Frisia,  whose 
life  was  less  praiseworthy.  This  story  I  heard 
from  the  mouth  of  our  Brother  Alardus  of  pious 
memory,  who  told  me  that  there  was  with  him  a 
certain  priest  whose  learning  was  small  and  his 
reputation  not  bright:  and  when  this  priest  entered 
215 


THE  LIFE  OF 

the  Church  to  celebrate  the  Divine  Mysteries,  an 
honourable  Matron,  knowing  his  lack  of  learning, 
began  to  think  scornfully  of  him  and  to  murmur, 
saying:  "What  art  thou  trying  to  do,  ignorant 
man  that  thou  art?  How  can  one  that  is  so  un- 
worthy duly  celebrate  so  great  a  Sacrament?" 
While  she  was  thinking  this  the  priest  began  to 
celebrate  and  to  touch  the  Holy  Elements  and 
consecrate  Them;  and  when  the  Sacred  Host  was 
elevated  after  the  Consecration  according  to  the 
Ritual  of  the  Church,  and  all  the  congregation 
were  adoring  in  faith  upon  their  bended  knees, 
the  aforesaid  matron  opened  her  eyes,  and  to  her 
amazement  and  perplexity  saw,  at  the  moment  of 
the  Elevation,  the  Figure  of  the  Man  Christ. 
After  Mass  was  done  she  told  this  in  private  to 
another  priest  and  humbly  confessed  the  evil 
thoughts  which  she  had  formerly  had  about  the 
Celebrant;  and  her  Confessor  having  diligently 
inquired  how  the  matter  came  to  pass,  and  con- 
cerning the  Vision,  answered  her,  saying:  "  God 
hath  allowed  this  to  come  to  pass  for  thy  Salva- 
tion, lest  in  future  thou  shouldest  think  evil  of 
priests  or  doubt  that  they  do  truly  consecrate 
even  if  they  are  of  ill-reputation  and  unworthy 
life."  The  woman,  hearing  this,  held  her  faith 
sure  and  left  it  to  God  to  judge  His  priests. 

(5)  Let  it  not  irk  thee  to  hear  yet  another 
miracle  concerning  this  most  Holy  Sacrament. 

When  I  entered  the  Monastery  of  Mount  St. 
Agnes  to  sojourn  there,  a  certain  Religious  Clerk, 
who  abode  there  for  a  long  time  with  me,  had 
occasion  to  go  to  a  neighbouring  Monastery:  and 
when  he  was  on  the  way,  one  that  was  a  layman 
joined  himself  to  him  and  became  his  travelling 
companion  and  talked  to  him  as  a  friend.  So  as 
216 


HENRY  BRUNE 

they  were  walking  together  and  conversing  about 
God,  the  layman  said  to  the  Clerk  who  accom- 
panied him:  "My  friend,  I  will  tell  thee  one  small 
matter  that  hath  happened  in  my  life.    For  a  long 
time  I  was  in  such  a  condition  that  when  I  entered 
a  Church  I  could  never  see  the  Sacrament  of  the 
Altar  in  the  Priest's  hands,  and  thinking  that  I 
stood  too  far  off,  and  that  owing  to  the  dimness 
of  my  eyes  I  could  not  see  well,  I  approached  as 
near  as  I  dared  and  as  was  permitted — but  this 
profited  me  not  at  all,  for  still  I  saw  nothing  be- 
tween the  Priest's  hands.    This  continued  to  me 
for  more  than  a  year,  but  I  did  not  duly  con- 
sider what  the  reason  might  be.   At  length,  coming 
to  myself  and  being  greatly  perplexed  I  betook 
me  to  a  priest  and  laid  bare  the  whole  matter 
in  confession;  and  he  heard  me  kindly,  and  care- 
fully   searching    out    the    secrets    of  my   heart, 
found  that  I  was  in  a  state  of  enmity   towards 
a  neighbour  to  whom  I  would  on  no  account  for- 
give a  trespass  that  he  had  committed  against 
me.    So  the  good  and  prudent  Confessor,  when 
he  knew  of  this  sin  of  malice,  instructed  me  with 
chiding  and  admonition,  affirming  that  it  would 
be  most  perilous  to  continue  thus  hard  of  heart, 
and  that  I  could  never  deserve  pardon  unless  from 
my  heart  I  forgave  all  trespasses.    And  this  he  said 
had  happened  to  me  because  I  was  not  worthy  to 
look  upon  the  Holy  Sacrament  since  mine  eye 
was  evil.    Hearing  this  pious  admonition  of  the 
priest  I  consented  to  his  counsel,  and  with  hearty 
repentance  forgave  all  injuries,  resolving  for  the 
future  not  to  avenge  myself,  so  that  I  might  be 
reconciled  to  God  and  regain  the  grace  that  I  had 
lost.    Then  at  length  the  priest  gave  me  absolu- 
tion, and  having  imposed  penance  upon  me,  let 
217 


THE  LIFE  OF 

me  go.  Immediately  afterward  I  went  into  the 
Church  and  heard  Mass,  and  having  regained  the 
favour  of  God  I  saw  most  clearly  the  Holy  Body 
of  Christ  in  the  hands  of  the  priest,  and  returning 
thanks  to  God  I  blessed  Him  for  all  His  marvel- 
lous works. 

(6)  But  I  must  return  to  my  task  and  deal 
briefly  with  the  happy  death  of  Henry  Brune,  for 
as  his  life  was  adorned  with  virtue,  so  the  end 
thereof  was  deservedly  a  happy  passing  away  from 
this  world.  Amongst  the  other  virtues  of  this  pious 
and  devout  man  was  this,  that  he  was  subject  in 
all  humility  to  his  superior,  giving  a  good  example 
to  priests  and  clerks  not  to  exalt  themselves  above 
the  younger  Brethren  by  reason  of  their  priestly 
rank.  Sometimes  on  feast  days  he  celebrated  be- 
fore the  lepers  by  leave  of  Florentius,  and  I  served 
for  him  on  those  occasions. 

(7)  Once  he  went  with  the  Brothers  to  obtain 
indulgences  at  Arnheim,  and  while  they  were  in 
the  way  he  was  asked  for  what  consideration  he 
would  give  up  his  indulgences.  To  this  he  re- 
plied: "I  would  gladly  give  them  all  in  exchange 
for  this  grace,  that  whensoever  I  should  say  any- 
thing good  to  anyone,  he  should  straightway  be 
converted  and  amend  his  life."  The  Brothers  who 
heard  it  were  marvellously  edified  by  his  good 
reply  which  proceeded  from  that  earnest  zeal 
for  souls  which  dwelt  within  his  pious  and  pure 
heart. 

(8)  So  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  1439  the  plague 
was  raging  at  Zutphen  where  the  Brothers  of  the 
House  of  Florentius,  and  many  other  Religious, 
then  dwelt,  having  fled  from  Deventer ;  and  Henry 
Brune  fell  sick  with  the  disease  and  lay  at  the 
point  of  death,  confidently  waiting  to  receive  the 

218 


HENRY  BRUNE 

reward  of  his  labours  from  the  Hand  of  the  Lord. 
He  had  continued  in  the  Community  almost  from 
the  time  of  Gerard  Groote  and  had  fulfilled  the 
Office  of  the  Priesthood  for  about  forty-four  years, 
having  far  outlived  all  the  rest  of  those  who  had 
known  their  first  fervour  in  the  Religious  Life  with 
him.  But  throughout  his  days  he  laboured  at  the 
work  of  writing,  and  I  have  often  seen  him  wash- 
ing vessels  in  the  kitchen,  and  doing  other  lowly 
tasks. 

(9)  He  knew  scarcely  anything  save  the  things 
that  pertain  to  God  and  the  salvation  of  souls,  nor 
cared  to  speak  of  aught  else.  And  that  which  had 
been  the  habit  of  his  life  he  maintained  unto  death, 
for  he  recited  all  the  Hours  till  the  very  moment 
that  he  gave  up  his  soul,  nor  during  his  illness 
did  he  cease  his  reading  of  the  Holy  Scriptures, 
for  he  sought  comfort  rather  in  the  Word  of  God 
than  in  the  discourses  of  men.  The  departure  of 
this  most  godly  priest  was  in  the  aforesaid  year 
of  our  Lord,  on  the  day  following  the  Feast  of 
Saint  Bartholomew  the  Apostle  (being  the  feast- 
day  of  St.  Gregory,  Bishop  of  Utrecht),  at  about 
the  eleventh  hour  of  the  day,  and  he  was  buried 
in  the  Cemetery  of  Saint  Walburga,  the  Virgin, 
which  pertains  to  the  College  of  Canons  in  Zut- 
phen. 


219 


THE  LIFE  OF 


THE  LIFE  OF  GERARD  OF  ZUTPHEN 


(0 

OW  it  is  my  purpose  to  trace  briefly 
the  virtues  of  the  devout  and  learned 
Gerard  of  Zutphen,  and  to  set  up  his 
writings  and  example  before  the  com- 
ing generation  as  a  pattern  to  them,  and  a  good 
memorial  of  his  life,  for  he  hath  deserved  to  be 
named  in  a  foremost  place  amid  those  brothers 
who  formed  the  first  of  our  Communities  and  were 
zealous  followers  of  the  Divine  Law.  Although  he 
lived  for  but  a  short  time,  yet  he  left  us  Doctrinal 
Treatises  that  are  most  acceptable,  for  he  was  a 
very  diligent  student  of  the  Holy  Scriptures,  and 
from  the  dark  sayings  of  the  learned  he  extracted 
divers  aromatic  spices  having  virtue  against  the 
distempers  of  vice  to  heal  the  languors  of  the  soul, 
as  doth  appear  particularly  in  two  books  which 
he  put  forth,  of  which  one  doth  begin  "  A  certain 
Man  "  and  the  other  is  entitled,  "  Blessed  is  the 
Man."  From  his  infancy  and  the  days  of  his  youth 
he  was  disposed  to  learning,  quick  of  wit,  eager  to 
study  the  liberal  arts,  and  heartily  averse  from 
worldly  business  and  everything  that  might  hinder 
the  pursuit  of  wisdom. 

(2)  When  he  grew  to  manhood,  being  a  youth 
of  virtuous  disposition,  he  went  to  foreign  schools 
to  be  the  better  instructed,  and  busied  himself 
with  all  diligence  to  be  regular  in  attendance,  to 
rise  up  very  early  in  the  morning  and  hasten  in 
due  time  to  hear  the  lectures.  All  the  time  given 
to  study  seemed  short  to  him,  for  he  was  ever 
desirous  of  gathering  from  his  master's  lips  some 
220 


GERARD  OF  ZUTPHEN 

yet  more  fruitful  knowledge  which  he  seized  and 
stored  up  in  the  inner  chambers  of  his  heart.  The 
ardour  of  his  mind  for  progress  in  learning  burned 
so  fiercely  that  he  was  greatly  downcast  when  the 
teachers  in  the  Schools  did  not  lecture ;  and  for 
this  cause  he  sometimes  wept  because  there  were 
no  lectures  on  holidays,  for  he  was  ill-content  that 
any  day  should  go  by  without  yielding  some  fruit 
of  learning.  His  ingenuous  mind  was  far  removed 
from  the  sloth  of  dullards  and  the  idle  rovings  of 
the  wanton  who  run  about  the  streets  and  take 
delight  in  senseless  pastimes,  but  hate  the  School 
and  seldom  visit  a  Church.  Gerard,  on  the  other 
hand,  thought  upon  the  purpose  for  which  he  had 
come,  and  the  reason  for  which  Schools  were 
founded,  wherefore  he  applied  himself  zealously 
to  study;  and  so  wisely  did  he  profit  thereby  as 
afterward  to  deserve  to  become  a  learner  of  that 
Wisdom  that  is  eternal  in  place  of  the  wisdom  of 
the  Schools;  for  by  the  ordinance  of  God  he  came 
at  last  to  study  at  Deventer,  and  having  found  the 
devout  Brothers  there  he  attached  himself  closely 
to  Florentius,  and  being  by  this  time  sufficiently 
instructed,  he  quitted  the  unstable  worldly  life  for 
the  sake  of  the  love  of  Christ  and  his  own  Salva- 
tion. 

(3)  Being  converted  therefore  he  began  to  be 
diligent  and  instant  in  the  amending  of  his  life, 
to  be  zealous  for  spiritual  progress,  to  separate 
his  mind  from  all  the  entanglements  of  temporal 
things,  and  like  a  good  son  of  the  Cloister  to  love 
his  cell,  to  give  himself  up  to  spiritual  exercises, 
and  to  spend  his  time  in  study  and  writing.  For 
this  cause  many  wondered,  because  he  was  seldom 
seen  to  go  forth,  and  sought  no  solace  outside  the 
Monastery.  Yet  he  held  the  holy  writings  to  stand 
221 


THE  LIFE  OF 

for  his  greatest  solace,  and  in  place  of  seeking  the 
wide  expanse  of  earthly  fields,  he  sought  the  hal- 
lowed mansions  of  Heaven.  When  he  went  across 
the  street  to  the  Church  he  seemed  not  to  notice 
the  presence  of  other  men,  and  when  he  was 
asked  whether  he  was  not  hindered  by  them  of 
the  world  who  passed  him,  he  answered :  "  It  is 
to  me  as  though  a  herd  of  swine  were  passing; 
what  is  it  to  me  that  they  wear  the  form  of 
men?" 

(4)  As  he  sat  in  his  cell  he  was  so  occupied 
with  his  work,  writing,  reading,  and  prayer,  that 
often  he  left  his  window  shut  all  day  and  did  not 
look  out,  although  the  weather  might  be  fair 
enough.  One  of  the  Brothers  therefore  said  to 
him:  "Why  dost  thou  not  open  thy  window? 
Thou  dost  sit  here  shut  up  as  it  were  in  a  cellar, 
and  it  would  be  good  for  thee  to  breathe  the  fresh 
air";  and  Gerard,  being  wholly  given  up  to  his 
zeal  for  discipline,  replied:  "  If  I  had  spare  time 
and  could  take  forethought  about  such  matters, 
perhaps  it  would  be  good  to  do  so."  When  he 
was  asked  by  the  same  brother  what  his  thoughts 
were  when  the  bell  rang  for  the  morning  meal, 
he  said:  "  I  go  to  one  duty  as  to  another."  He 
scarce  cared  at  all  what  he  ate,  nor  what  the 
hour  for  his  meal  might  be,  and  when  the  neces- 
sity for  taking  food  was  instant  upon  him,  even 
then  he  hastened  to  hear  the  reading  rather  than 
to  refresh  the  body,  for  he  took  no  thought  for 
this  latter,  but  rather  was  careful  to  restore  the 
powers  of  his  soul,  and  if  Florentius  had  not 
anxiously  provided  for  his  needs  he  would  soon 
have  destroyed  himself  and  perished.  Thus  it 
came  about  that  for  a  long  time  he  bore  without 
complaint  and  secretly  a  disease  which  physicians 

222 


GERARD  OF  ZUTPHEN 

call  fistula — for  he  was  unwilling  that  any  should 
be  troubled  with  the  care  of  him,  or  that  expenses 
should  be  incurred  on  his  behalf,  and  he  preferred 
to  suffer  pain  in  the  flesh  as  a  wholesome  medicine 
for  the  soul.  But  when  Florentius  discovered  this 
he  called  a  physician  to  take  charge  of  him  until 
he  should  be  healed. 

(5)  He  was  librarian  and  keeper  of  the  books,  and 
showed  great  diligence  in  collecting  and  copying 
them.  Likewise  he  lent  copies  of  the  sacred  books 
to  many  Clerks  outside  the  monastery  that  they 
might  have  readings  therefrom  in  their  own  houses 
and  in  schools,  and  so  avoid  the  telling  of  idle 
stories  and  aimless  wanderings  on  holidays,  which 
are  seasons  during  which  Clerks  are  specially 
admonished  to  give  their  mind  to  holy  things.  He 
used  to  say,  "  These  books  preach  and  teach 
better  than  any  words  of  ours;  for  holy  books  are 
the  luminaries  of  our  souls  and  their  comfort; 
they  are  the  true  medicine  of  life,  which  are  not 
less  necessary  to  us  during  our  sojourn  here  than 
are  the  Sacraments  of  the  Church."  He  loved  the 
books  of  sacred  Theology  above  all  the  riches  of 
the  world,  and  rejoiced  more  over  a  fair  writ  copy 
than  over  a  sumptuous  banquet,  or  wine  of  most 
sweet  savour;  for  he  knew  that  they  shall  not  be 
wise  who  take  pleasure  in  delicate  meats  and 
drinks;  but  they  who  are  given  up  to  sacred 
studies  shall  be  filled  with  wisdom,  and  access  to 
the  hidden  treasures  of  Heaven  shall  be  their 
guerdon.  Wherefore  he  dealt  with  books  in  all 
reverence,  reading  them  with  the  utmost  diligence 
and  keeping  them  in  careful  ward. 

(6)  Many  Clerks  came  to  him  to  resolve  divers 
doubtful  matters,  and  heard  his  discourses  gladly, 
for  he  was  a  man  that  was  ready  of  speech  and 
223 


THE  LIFE  OF 

learned,  proved  by  many  disputations,  and  having 
knowledge  how  to  answer  every  man.  Florentius 
often  summoned  him  to  settle  the  business  of  the 
Community,  and  with  his  assistance  was  wont  to 
deal  with  those  matters  in  particular  which  de- 
manded skilled  knowledge  of  law  and  also  seemed 
to  require  spiritual  treatment.  In  such  cases  if  any 
grave  or  difficult  question  arose  he  reserved  it  for 
the  examination  and  decision  of  the  wise  when- 
ever it  was  desirable  to  do  so,  and  he  listened 
reverently  to  learned  doctors,  followed  the  author- 
ity of  the  Saints  without  hesitation,  and  confirmed 
his  own  decisions  clearly  by  sacred  testimony. 
Wherefore  he  was  highly  praised  by  wise  and 
learned  men  for  the  abilities  that  were  united  in 
him,  but  he  himself  accounted  the  praise  of  men 
as  nothing,  for  he  did  not  strive  to  pursue  after 
subtility  of  speech,  but  rather  to  preserve  a  good 
conscience.  So  in  the  understanding  of  the  Holy 
Scriptures  his  long  application  to  study  profited  him 
less  than  the  informing  grace  of  the  Holy  Spirit 
Who  giveth  understanding  to  the  little  ones  and 
doth  reveal  His  mysteries  to  minds  that  are  pure. 
Verily  Gerard  directed  all  his  exercises  toward 
the  attainment  of  this  purity,  impressing  the  fear 
of  God  upon  those  who  were  newly  converted, 
chiding  the  slothful,  and  exhorting  those  who 
would  go  forward  in  virtue  to  mortify  their  vices. 
(7)  "  If,"  said  he,  "  we  neglect  to  fight  against 
our  vices,  our  passions  shall  prevail,  and  we  shall 
fall  into  the  snares  of  the  devil  who  is  ever  lying 
in  wait  to  hinder  our  progress.  Therefore  we  must 
labour  with  all  diligence  to  quit  us  like  men  in 
fighting  against  them,  for  a  crown  of  Eternal 
Glory  hath  been  promised  to  him  that  over- 
cometh."  After  that  he  had  received  the  Light 
224 


GERARD  OF  ZUTPHEN 

this  Priest  lived  humbly  and  devoutly  among  the 
Brothers,  being  filled  with  grace,  and  though  he 
had  read  many  books,  yet  before  his  death  he 
began  to  read  again  "  The  Mirror  for  Monks  "  and 
"  The  Progress  of  the  Religious  "  as  if  he  were  a 
new  convert,  and  from  these  books  he  strove  to 
gather  afresh  the  spirit  of  devotion,  and  to  renew 
himself  again  to  his  first  fervour.  Yet  burning 
with  such  zeal  for  progress  he  did  not  long  sur- 
vive, but  mindful  of  Lubert  that  was  dead — a  friend 
whom  he  had  deeply  loved  and  for  whose  de- 
parture he  had  shed  many  tears — he  soon  followed 
after  him.  He  was  sent  with  Brother  Amilius  to 
the  Abbot  at  Dickeninghe,  a  man  learned  in  Canon 
law  whom  he  used  often  to  consult  in  legal  ques- 
tions, and  as  he  was  returning  from  his  journey 
he  came  to  Windesheim,  and  while  passing  the 
night  there  fell  sick  unto  death. 

(8)  And  Amilius  said  to  him,  "  It  seemeth  to 
me  that  thou  art  near  to  die,"  to  whom  Gerard 
made  answer,  "  So  seemeth  it  to  me  also,"  and  so 
as  his  sickness  increased  upon  him,  he  breathed 
forth  the  breath  of  his  life,  like  one  steeped  in  a 
gentle  sleep,  during  the  night  of  the  Feast  of  St. 
Barbara  the  Virgin,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  139$, 
and  in  the  thirty-first  year  of  his  age.  His  body  was 
buried  by  the  Prior  and  the  Brothers,  with  due 
honour,  in  the  path  before  the  door  of  the  Church. 

Florentius  hearing  of  the  death  of  the  beloved 
Gerard  was  very  sad,  and  he  with  all  the  Brothers 
wept  with  great  lamentation,  for  their  deep  love 
for  him  constrained  them  to  mourn  for  the  taking 
away  of  a  brother  most  dear,  who  was  a  pillar  of 
their  House,  and,  as  it  were,  another  hand  to 
Florentius  in  performing  the  business  thereof. 

But  blessed  be  God  Who  lent  us  such  a  man! 
225  Q 


THE  LIFE  OF 


LIFE  OF  AMILIUS  OF  BUREN. 

(0 

OW  I  must  commemorate  and  set  forth 
in  this  book  the  life  of  the  beloved 
Amilius,  a  priest  worthy  to  serve  God. 
He  succeeded  Florentius,our  Reverend 
Father,  and  was  the  second  Ruler  of  the  House, 
being  one  whom  Florentius  loved  as  a  familiar 
friend,  and  a  man  decked  with  many  jewels  ot 
virtue. 

He  sprang  from  a  family  of  the  Province  of 
Gelders  in  the  territory  of  the  Count  de  Buren; 
and  numbering  amongst  his  forefathers  men  who 
had  been  Ministers  of  State,  he  was  esteemed  to 
hold  like  rank  with  them. 

(2)  When  he  came  to  study  atDeventer,  where 
a  school  for  special  learning  was  then  flourishing, 
he  showed  such  diligence  and  progress  in  the 
scholastic  arts  that  in  a  short  time  he  took  his 
place  amongst  the  foremost  students  as  one  of  the 
more  learned,  and  by  reason  of  the  subtility  of 
his  understanding  was  held  in  more  than  ordinary 
favour  by  the  Master  of  the  School. 

But  by  the  gift  of  God  it  came  about  that  a 
mind  so  great  was  not  wasted  away  in  a  worldly 
life,  nor  sought  to  gain  earthly  honours  through 
knowledge,  but  counted  all  such  things  as  dross. 
So,  being  prevented  by  the  Grace  of  Heaven,  and 
inspired  by  the  Most  High,  Amilius  came  to  the 
House  of  Florentius  and  was  drawn  to  him  by  the 
holiness  of  his  discourse;  he  submitted  himself  to 
the  counsel  of  the  Holy  Ghost  speaking  through 
the  mouth  of  this  Reverend  Father,  who  gave  him 
226 


AMILIUS  OF  BUREN 

the  monitions  of  that  Wisdom  that  is  unto  salva- 
tion. 

Amilius  therefore  putting  aside  his  studies,  and 
abandoning  his  carnal  friends,  became  an  humble 
Brother  and  a  disciple  of  Christ;  and  by  his 
example  he  was  profitable  to  many  by  leading 
them  to  renounce  the  world  and  to  serve  Christ. 
He  gave  himself  up  to  the  fulfilment  of  the  most 
humble  duties;  for  his  soul's  salvation  he  spared 
not  his  body,  nor  sought  he  anything  for  his  own 
advantage  in  this  present  life.  In  the  virtue  of 
holy  obedience  he  bore  heavy  labour,  such  as 
milling  and  brewing  and  other  tasks  entrusted  to 
him,  which  he  performed  cheerfully  and  with 
fidelity. 

(3)  Many  wondered  that,  not  being  large  of 
frame,  he  could  carry  out  such  heavy  tasks,  which 
assuredly  he  had  not  learned  during  his  life  in  the 
world,  nor  had  been  accustomed  to  aforetime; 
tasks,  moreover,  which  a  stronger  than  he  would 
scarce  ha\e  undertaken  for  worldly  gain.  But  the 
love  of  Christ  and  the  brotherly  charity  which 
availeth  for  all  things  ministered  strength  to  his 
goodwill,  so  that  his  reward  might  be  the  greater  in 
proportion  as  he  laboured  more  fervently  than  all. 

So  pleasing  was  he  to  God  and  to  the  Brothers 
that,  after  Lubert  and  Gerard  fell  on  sleep,  he  was 
immediately  ordained  to  the  priesthood  whilst 
Florentius  was  yet  alive,  and  when  the  time  came 
that  he  should  celebrate  his  first  Mass,  Florentius, 
clad  in  his  surplice,  attended  him  until  he  had 
finished  the  Office  to  the  honour  of  God  perfectly 
and  with  devotion.  He  celebrated  at  the  Altar  of 
St.  Paul  in  the  church  of  which  Florentius  was 
Vicar,  before  High  Mass  and  privately,  so  that 
there  was  not  a  large  congregation  present. 
227 


THE  LIFE  OF 

(4)  So  at  the  time  of  the  Plague  this  man, 
eminent  for  piety,  truly  faithful  in  everything  that 
was  entrusted  to  him,  and  a  comfortable  friend  to 
all  that  were  in  need,  took  charge  of  the  stricken, 
being  ready  in  the  spirit  of  obedience  and  fraternal 
charity  either  to  live  or  die  with  his  Brethren. 
For  he  stood  fearlessly  by  John  Ketel,  the  Cook 
of  the  Community,  by  Lubert,  and  many  others 
who  were  seized  with  the  like  disease,  ministering 
to  them  until  their  death;  and  having  rendered 
such  service  ofttimes  to  the  Brethren  he  himself 
fell  sick,  but  amended  again,  for  God  had  pity 
upon  the  Brethren  to  their  comfort  lest  they  should 
have  sorrow  upon  sorrow. 

It  was  from  his  mouth  that  I  received  many  of 
those  good  things  concerning  the  virtues  of  the 
Brothers  which  I  have  written  in  this  book  as 
occasion  demanded,  although  I  have  not  expressly 
named  him  as  having  told  me  of  them. 

(5)  Once  he  came  to  the  Brothers  at  Mount 
St.  Agnes,  and  speaking  to  some  who  were  known 
to  him,  exhorted  them  to  abide  in  the  holy  manner 
of  life  of  the  Order  so  as  to  go  forward  in  virtue. 
By  his  virtuous  character  and  gracious  words  I 
was  greatly  edified,  for  he  stood  there  like  some 
gentle  lamb  serene  of  countenance  and  with  eyes 
looking  staedfastly  before  him,  not  regarding  the 
faces  of  them  that  stood  by.  After  the  happy  de- 
parture of  Florentius,  who  had  appointed  Amilius 
to  be  his  successor  in  the  governance  of  the  House, 
he  fell  asleep  in  the  Lord  on  the  Vigil  of  the  Feast 
of  Saint  Barnabas  the  Apostle,  in  the  1404th  year 
of  our  Lord,  having  ruled  the  House  well  for  four 
years  and  three  months.  He  was  buried  next  to 
Lubert  in  the  Cemetery  of  St.  Lebuin,  on  the  south 
side  of  the  Church  not  far  from  the  Priest's  Vestry. 

228 


AMILIUS  OF  BUREN 

(6)  Amilius's  Exhortation  to  the  keeping  of 

Brotherly  Love. 
"  Hitherto  have  we  continued,  my  most  beloved 
brothers,  ever  united  and  in  mutual  charity,  but 
now  as  it  seemeth  I  am  about  to  depart  from  you. 
Wherefore  I  do  heartily  entreat  you  that  as  ye 
have  been  fervent  hitherto  to  keep  that  unity  (for 
which  be  praise  and  glory  to  Christ),  so  ye  main- 
tain the  same  with  steadfastness  and  perseverance ; 
that  in  all  things  ye  lovingly  obey  him  to  whom  is 
committed  the  care  of  this  House,  even  as  ye 
would  obey  Christ  and  as  hitherto  ye  have  obeyed 
me,  not  considering  his  person,  but  Christ  in  him; 
for  this  cause  think  not  the  precepts  he  may  give 
you  to  be  evil,  wiihout  reason,  or  contrary  to  your 
well-being,  since  it  is  not  he  that  giveth  them,  but 
the  Lord  through  him.  Obey  him  therefore  for 
Christ's  sake  and  as  if  he  were  Christ  Himself. 
Hasten  to  fulfil  his  precepts  as  though  they  were 
given  from  Heaven,  for  the  Lord  is  not  always 
pleased  to  reveal  His  will  directly,  or  by  miracles 
or  by  angels,  but  hath  so  ordained  that  we  should 
know  the  same  through  a  human  deputy,  whom 
we  must  obey  in  all  his  commands  and  precepts 
as  we  should  obey  the  Lord  Himself. 

(7)  "Therefore  whatsoever  duties  or  precepts  of 
charity  he  layeth  upon  you,  these  fulfil  with  will- 
ing and  cheerful  minds,  nor  think  that  these  things 
shall  lack  their  fruit  or  hinder  your  devout  exer- 
cises or  your  well-being;  for  a  thousand  such 
exercises  are  nothing  compared  to  humility  and 
the  subjection  that  a  man  doth  undergo  willingly. 
So  even  if  his  commands  should  seem  to  be  with- 
out reason,  and  like  to  be  a  great  hindrance  to 
you,  both  at  the  present  and  in  the  time  to  come, 

229 


THE  LIFE  OF 

nevertheless  pass  no  judgement  thereupon,  but 
alway  continue  humbly  in  subjection,  nothing 
judging.  And  as  I  have  often  said,  look  to  Christ, 
not  to  the  man  in  his  own  person;  ye  are  not  sub- 
ject to  him  because  of  his  own  proper  qualities, 
but  ye  submit  for  the  sake  of  God,  for  your  eternal 
salvation  and  progress,  and  for  the  Kingdom  of 
Heaven.  As  ye  have  begun  so  continue  to  the  end, 
passing  no  judgement  upon  your  Father,  but  re- 
verencing him  deeply,  and  in  all  things  humbly 
and  cheerfully  obeying  him;  think  not  within 
yourselves  "  we  are  as  aged,  as  skilled,  as  learned, 
as  wise  as  he,"  for  ye  are  not  put  under  him  for 
his  own  sake  but  for  Christ's,  and  for  your  own 
humiliation  and  safety,  that  ye  may  have  recourse 
to  him  as  to  a  father  for  protection  and  for  counsel. 
(8)  "  What  is  there  between  you  and  me,  Breth- 
ren, save  that  ye  have  obeyed  me  for  God's  sake, 
and  what  between  me  and  Florentius  (or  Gerard  if 
I  had  been  here  with  him)  save  that  I  obeyed  him 
for  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven's  sake.  Therefore 
everyone  should  think  how  he  can  humiliate  and 
submit  himself,  and  study  to  be  contented  what- 
ever office  is  enjoined  upon  him,  whether  it  be 
small  or  whether  it  be  great ;  nor  should  any  be 
wise  in  his  own  conceit,  but  rather  think  that 
whatsoever  may  have  been  ordained  for  him,  that 
is  the  better  for  him.  If  any  would  be  excused 
from  any  office  saying  that  he  is  willing  to  give 
way  in  all  else,  but  that  he  ought  not  to  be  de- 
graded to  such  or  such  an  office,  I  had  rather  cast 
him  forth  from  the  House  than  give  him  such 
exemption,  because  at  some  other  time  when  his 
own  will  desired  an  office  other  than  that  assigned 
to  him,  he  would  be  rebellious  in  this  also.  But 
in  the  matter  of  willingness  to  give  way,  let  a  man 
^230 


AMILIUS  OF  BUREN 

think  of  naught  save  Christ.  Brethren,  let  us  be, 
as  it  were,  members  one  of  another  and  each  sus- 
tain the  other,  which  if  we  do  not,  our  estate  shall 
quickly  perish.  Let  us  strive  each  in  turn  to  keep 
Charity  and  Unity,  and  let  every  one  seek  to  be 
as  it  were  trodden  under  the  foot  of  another  and 
so  no  adversity  shall  have  power  to  hurt  us. 

(9)  "  I  know  of  nothing  else  to  say  to  you  save 
that  which  the  Lord  said  to  His  disciples  just 
before  His  Ascension,  namely,  that  ye  love  one 
another  even  as  Christ  loved  you,  and  that  ye  pray 
for  me ;  and  I,  if  I  come  to  the  Lord,  will  do  what- 
soever I  can  for  you.  In  that  I  have  often  borne 
myself  ill  and  have  been  a  scandal  to  you,  I  pray 
you  to  forgive  me ;  likewise  for  my  negligence  and 
the  other  many  vices  in  which  I  have  been  en- 
tangled, all  of  which  I  would  readily  confess  before 
you  but  that  I  fear  lest  some  of  you  should  be 
scandalized."  So  saying  he  put  off  his  hood  and 
besought  pardon  of  the  Brethren  for  his  faults 
with  compunction  and  all  humility,  and  began  to 
weep,  seeing  which  the  Brothers  knelt  and  wept 
long  and  bitterly.  These  were  the  last  words  of 
Amilius  which  he  spoke  for  the  building  up  of 
mutual  love  and  peace. 


231 


THE  LIFE  OF 

LIFE  OF  JAMES  OF  VIANA 
<*€  Concerning  James  of  Viana 

(0 

AMES  of  Viana,  a  man  strong  and  wise 
in  character,  was  endowed  with  much 
grace  of  humility,  repentance  and  spi- 
ritual insight,  so  that  he  often  sighed 
and  wept  for  his  daily  failures,  strictly  examining 
himself  thereupon.  Likewise  he  charged  against 
himself  actions  which  another  would  praise  in  him, 
for  in  everything  that  he  did  he  was  fearful  know- 
ing that  it  must  be  weighed  in  the  strict  balance 
of  the  Judge  on  High,  Who  shall  judge  not  open 
negligence  only,  but  also  the  secret  stains  of  the 
conscience.  Far  from  his  heart  were  proud 
thoughts  of  himself  and  the  wish  to  be  accounted 
good,  for  he  desired  to  be  lower  than  all  and  to 
give  way  even  to  those  beneath  him  as  though 
they  were  his  betters.  Amongst  the  writers  he  was 
eminent  being  diligent  in  the  copying  of  books 
and  in  his  care  for  them. 

(2)  When  a  young  man  sought  to  be  instructed 
by  him  in  spiritual  exercises,  James  in  his  humi- 
lity immediately  confessed  that  he  was  slothful  and 
a  miserable  sinner  who  had  not  yet  really  grasped 
the  first  principles  of  virtue;  and  he  began  to  com- 
mend certain  of  the  younger  Brethren,  saying  that 
they  were  men  of  fervent  spirit  and  understanding. 
Upon  another  time  the  same  youth  being  very 
sad  told  James  of  the  distress  of  his  heart,  and 
desired  to  hear  some  word  of  comfort  from  him, 
232 


JAMES  OF  VIANA 

and  James  spake  kind  and  comfortable  words  to 
him,  exhorting  him  to  be  patient  and  to  wait 
humbly  for  the  grace  of  God,  because  the  good 
Lord  is  wont  to  be  present  with  them  that  are 
contrite  of  heart,  as  saith  the  Psalmist,  "Accord- 
ing to  the  multitude  of  my  sorrows  in  my  heart 
Thy  comforts  have  given  joy  to  my  soul";  and 
the  young  man  being  thus  comforted,  afterwards 
often  remembered  these  words  that  are  so  sweet 
when  any  sorrow  came  upon  him,  for  when  the 
comfort  of  man  faileth,  one  must  flee  to  the 
Divine,  and  think  how  great  Saints  and  the  Elect 
also  have  sometimes  suffered  heaviness  and  deso- 
lation. 

(3)  So  because  James  was  a  man  of  laudable 
life,  and  coveted  to  remain  in  the  lowest  rank  and 
the  simple  condition  of  a  Clerk,  therefore  by 
reason  of  his  virtues  and  this  notable  gift  of  hu- 
mility, he  was  promoted  to  the  Priesthood  by  the 
good  pleasure  of  God,  and  the  counsel  of  Flor- 
entius  and  his  Brethren.  But  this  promotion  was 
very  grievous  to  him  so  that  he  wept  bitterly 
when  he  knew  that  he  must  needs  be  ordained, 
for  he  confessed  that  he  was  too  unworthy  of  such 
a  rank,  and  he  deemed  that  they  who  had  given 
this  counsel  had  greatly  erred  in  that  they  had 
determined  to  promote  an  unfit  person.  But  the 
more  he  abased  himself  the  more  pleasing  was  he 
to  God  and  to  the  Brethren,  and  the  more  gladly 
did  Florentius  promote  him;  for  at  that  time  the 
Priesthood  was  a  thing  rare  and  precious  amongst 
the  Devout,  because  none  dared  to  accept  that 
office  save  one  that  was  righteous  and  compelled 
thereto  for  the  Common  good,  for  all  avoided 
higher  station  and  chose  to  abide  in  a  lower  room 
and  a  lowlier  office.  Wherefore  Florentius,  him- 
233 


THE  LIFE  OF 

self  a  gem  of  the  Priesthood,  is  reported  once  to 
have  said,  "  If  I  were  not  a  priest  and  had  not  the 
care  of  others  I  might  be  able  wholly  to  amend 
myself,  for  higher  place  doth  often  cause  disturb- 
ances of  mind  from  which  a  good  man  that  is 
under  governance  and  liveth  without  the  care  of 
external  things  is  the  more  free." 

(4)  Once  when  he  wished  to  meditate  upon  his 
failures,  James  secretly  climbed  up  to  the  sollar 
of  the  House,  and  with  heavy  sighs  wrote  down 
his  faults  upon  a  Tablet  so  that  he  might  not 
forget  anything  that  he  thought  he  ought  to 
confess. 

When  one  asked  him  of  the  manner  of  life  of 
the  House,  he  said,  "  If  any  would  live  with  us  it 
is  needful  that  he  abase  himself  and  make  him- 
self less  than  all.  Such  an  one  hath  here  a  Para- 
dise and  is  abundantly  content."  Florentius  used 
sometimes  to  reprove  him  and  recall  him  from 
the  unmeasured  heaviness  of  his  compunction, 
lest  by  too  great  severity  he  should  exceed  the 
bounds  of  prudence,  and  he  bore  the  reproof 
patiently,  greatly  humbling  himself  for  that  he 
had  gone  forward  somewhat  imprudently.  The 
fervency  of  his  spirit  surpassed  the  strength  of 
his  body,  but  his  good  intention  was  his  excuse, 
for  the  end  thereof  was  to  seek  after  God.  After 
this  he  fell  into  bodily  sickness,  and  his  strength 
failing  him  by  little  and  little,  he  died  during  the 
lifetime  of  Florentius,  that  is,  on  the  day  following 
the  Feast  of  St.  Gregory  the  Pope,  to  whom  he 
was  specially  devoted,  and  in  the  year  of  the  Lord 
1400.  He  was  buried  with  his  Brethren  in  the 
cemetery  of  the  great  church  that  is  dedicated  to 
St.  Lebuin. 


234 


JOHN  CACABUS 


LIFE  OF  JOHN  CACABUS 

Concerning  John  Cacabus,  called  in  the  vulgar 
tongue,  Ketel,  an  humble  cook 

(i) 

HERE  was  an  humble  servant  of  Christ 
in  the  House  of  Florentius  named  John 
Ketel,  to  whom  were  assigned  the 
duties  of  the  kitchen.  This  man,  des- 
pising all  worldly  things,  chose  the  path  of  holy 
poverty  on  earth,  that  in  Heaven  he  might  have 
part  in  the  eternal  riches  with  the  Saints;  and 
for  his  works  of  mercy  and  charity,  his  reward 
was  to  enter  into  everlasting  felicity. 

Long  ago  he  was  very  well  known  to  me  in  the 
days  when  I  resorted  oft  to  Deventer,  and  he 
showed  such  humility  in  his  manner  of  life,  and 
the  example  which  he  gave,  that  he  preached 
contempt  of  the  world  by  his  deeds  more  than  by 
his  words.  Yet  his  discourse  was  no  vain  thing 
when  he  spake  of  God,  for  he  persuaded  his 
hearers  that  all  temporal  greatness  is  con- 
temptible and  that  no  labour  undertaken  for  the 
love  of  Christ  should  be  abhorred.  But  who  could 
tell  worthily  the  virtues  of  this  man?  and  yet 
charity  doth  demand  that  I  speak  a  few  words  that 
this  pearl  buried  in  the  Lord's  field  may  not  be 
hidden  too  long,  but  may  be  brought  forth  to  the 
light  for  the  edification  of  many. 

(2)  His  native  town  was  Duseborch,  which  lies 
in  the  Countship  of  Marck,  not  far  from  Wesel, 
and  near  the  course  of  the  Rhine.    His  mother 
235 


THE  LIFE  OF 

Christina,  following  her  son's  footsteps,  ended  her 
days  in  the  House  of  the  Sisters  at  Deventer. 
That  son  had  been  at  first  a  trader  in  the  regions 
of  Flanders  and  Holland,  but  his  fixed  abode  was 
at  Dordrecht  with  the  merchants  that  trafficked 
by  sea.  He  often  had  the  good  inspiration  to  serve 
God,  but  knew  not  how  to  make  a  beginning,  nor 
by  what  way  to  travel  to  the  fulfilment  of  his  de- 
sire, and  when  he  had  long  continued  in  the  suc- 
cessful conduct  of  his  worldly  business,  at  length 
being  inspired  by  better  counsels,  he  thought  to 
put  away  the  deceits  of  this  world,  and  the  heavy 
yoke  of  the  service  thereof,  and  to  turn  his  will 
to  fulfilling  the  Office  of  the  Priesthood  so  as  to 
serve  God  in  more  honourable  wise  in  that  state 
of  life.  Therefore  on  this  account  he  put  aside 
his  worldly  traffick,  and  hearing  of  the  repute  of 
the  Devout  Clerks  at  Deventer,  he  came  thither 
to  visit  the  School  with  certain  other  men  of  good 
purpose.  He  had  already  gained  some  knowledge 
of  Latin,  so  as  to  be  able  to  understand  the  Scrip- 
ture, and  when  he  saw  the  holy  conversation  of 
Florentius  and  his  brothers,  he  was  changed  into 
another  man,  and  together  with  many  others  was 
fired  with  a  desire  to  renounce  the  world.  He  left 
following  the  rules  of  Alexander  and  Donatus,  and 
entered  into  the  School  where  spiritual  exercises 
are  taught,  so  as  to  learn  the  Will  of  God  in  the 
House  of  Florentius,  where  many  were  gathered 
together  and  served  Christ,  being  founded  in  hu- 
mility and  made  fast  in  holy  Charity. 

(3)  He  was  instant  in  his  request  to  serve  the 
Brothers  in  the  kitchen  that  so  long  as  he  lived 
he  might,  in  that  humble  condition,  offer  a  ser- 
vice pleasing  to  God.  So  after  many  prayers  he 
was  admitted  on  probation,  and  putting  aside  his 
236 


JOHN  CACABUS 

secular  garb  he  was  clad  in  an  old  habit,  and  a 
linen  apron  that  was  suited  to  the  defilements  of 
cooking;  but  he  rejoiced  more  to  be  clad  in  such 
a  garment  than  he  would  had  he  been  robed  in 
the  Priestly  stole;  and  he  became  a  pattern  of 
humility  and  lowliness  to  all  who  were  in  the 
House,  giving  himself  up  wholly  to  mortification 
for  the  Love  of  the  Crucified  Lord.  The  fame  of 
his  good  conversation  went  forth  to  the  ears  of 
men  without,  and  many  that  had  high  place  mar- 
velled that  he  who  had  been  formerly  a  wealthy 
merchant,  now  had  become  a  poor  cook  and  an 
humble  Brother.  For  though  he  had  once  designed 
to  climb  by  the  ladder  of  learning  to  the  dignity 
of  a  Priest  of  the  Church,  he  did  afterwards  put 
aside  all  desire  for  the  pinnacle  of  honour  and  the 
pride  of  dignity,  and  sought  the  lowest  room,  thus 
imitating  Christ  Who  humbled  Himself  and  taking 
upon  Him  the  form  of  a  servant,  ministered  to 
His  disciples. 

(4)  While  he  had  continued  in  the  world  he 
had  prepared  him  certain  priestly  vestments 
adorned  in  costly  wise,  and  having  designs  in- 
woven in  golden  thread.  So  gorgeous  were  they 
that  the  bishop  of  a  cathedral,  or  a  ruling  abbot, 
might  have  been  honoured  in  the  wearing  of  them. 
But  now  being  informed  to  his  soul's  health  by 
the  Spirit  of  God,  John  put  aside  and  rejected  all 
of  these,  and  selling  to  others  his  chasuble  and 
silken  cope,  vested  himself  in  vile  rags,  a  dark  tunic 
and  a  gray  cloak,  being  purposed  to  serve  in  the 
kitchen.  And  for  this  he  returned  hearty  thanks 
to  God  that  He  had  called  him  to  this  ministry, 
and  had  not  allowed  him  to  perish  with  the  mul- 
titude in  the  world,  wherefore  he  sometimes  said 
to  the  Brothers  with  great  cheerfulness  of  heart, 
237 


THE  LIFE  OF 

"Am  I  not  become  a  great  Priest  and  Prelate? 
for  twice  every  day  I  administer  communion  to 
the  Brothers";  by  which  parable  he  signified  that 
he  prepared  their  meal  both  morning  and  evening 
and  so  renewed  Christ  in  the  person  of  each  one 
of  the  Brothers. 

(5)  He  was  often  found  praying  on  bended 
knee  before  the  kitchen  fire,  and  while  his  hands 
held  the  cooking  vessels  his  mouth  poured  forth 
devout  Psalms.  He  made  the  kitchen  an  house 
of  prayer,  for  he  knew  that  God  is  everywhere, 
and  the  material  fire  was  to  him  a  flame  whereat 
to  kindle  the  fervour  of  his  spirit.  During  his 
labours  he  would  murmur  melodiously  the  hymns 
that  he  had  heard  sung  in  Church,  and  thus 
bearing  God  in  mind,  he  was  outwardly  busied 
with  his  cooking,  but  inwardly  at  leisure  to  medi- 
tate of  heavenly  things,  for  he  passed  no  time 
unfruitfully,  nor  for  a  moment  neglected  his 
spiritual  exercises.  He  was  diligent  to  prepare 
food  for  the  Brothers  in  due  time  and  carefully, 
for  he  was  the  master  cook,  but  yet  he  provided 
nothing  superfluous,  and  gave  to  others  the  better 
meats,  keeping  the  commoner  for  himself. 

He  chose  three  Saints  above  others  for  his  own 
special  devotion,  namely,  St.  Alexius,  who  for  a 
long  while  hid  himself  in  his  father's  house  in  the 
garb  of  a  stranger,  and  patiently  bore  much  con- 
tumely from  his  own  family;  St.  Francis,  who 
loved  poverty,  and  would  have  no  earthly  posses- 
sions in  this  world;  and  St.  Elizabeth  the  widow, 
who  being  filled  with  the  bowels  of  mercy,  dis- 
tributed all  her  goods  to  the  poor  and  despised 
all  worldly  riches  and  honours  as  dross. 

(6)  Once  he  was  speaking  with  his  com- 
panions concerning  holy  poverty,  and  so  fervent 

238 


JOHN  CACABUS 

was  the  sound  of  his  words  that  by  his  bearing 
and  the  transfiguration  of  his  countenance  one 
would  have  thought  that  he  was  all  on  fire  within. 

On  a  holy  day  when  certain  Clerks  from  the 
School  had  come  to  see  him,  he  began  to  speak 
good  words  to  them,  and  amongst  other  things 
said,  "  Well  do  we  find  it  written  in  the  Gospel, 
'  Blessed  are  the  poor  in  spirit,  for  theirs  is  the 
Kingdom  of  Heaven,'  but  nowhere  do  we  find  it 
written  therein,  '  Blessed  are  the  Masters  in 
Arts.'  "  And  his  hearers  marvelling  at  the  novelty 
of  his  words,  received  them  with  much  reverence; 
likewise  he  explained  his  saying  to  them  on  the 
ground  that  knowledge  without  humility  profiteth 
not,  but,  that  in  truth  the  Kingdom  of  God  is 
attained  by  poverty  of  spirit,  that  is,  by  humility ; 
for  this  virtue  doth  gain  favour  from  God  now, 
and  Eternal  Life  in  the  time  to  come.  He  was 
very  good  and  pitiful  in  feeding  the  poor,  par- 
ticularly such  as  desired  to  serve  God;  and  when 
some  said  that  they  got  but  little  by  begging  in 
the  streets,  he  marvelled  that  many  rich  men  were 
so  churlish  and  did  not  give  liberally  to  the  poor 
although  without  much  loss  to  themselves  they 
might  practise  works  of  mercy,  and  receive  ex- 
ceeding great  rewards  from  God. 

(7)  One  day  therefore  he  and  another  who  was 
chosen  to  be  his  companion  disguised  themselves 
as  beggars  and  went  forth,  when  it  was  already 
late  in  the  day,  to  beg  bread,  wishing  to  prove 
the  truth  of  what  these  poor  men  had  said.  And 
John  Ketel  cried  before  the  doors  and  said,  "  Give 
somewhat  for  God's  Sake  to  a  poor  stranger  who 
would  fain  be  in  Jerusalem."  By  this  he  meant 
not  that  Jerusalem  on  earth  which  slew  Christ 
and  the  Prophets,  but  the  Fatherland  Above  whose 
239 


THE  LIFE  OF 

inhabitants  are  the  Saints  and  Angels  of  God;  for 
that  country  the  poor  stranger  John  did  sigh, 
being  for  the  time  far  off  in  the  body  from  the 
Heavenly  Jerusalem,  though  in  his  soul  he  drew 
nearer  to  Her  every  day.  Now  a  certain  Clerk 
who  was  in  his  house,  hearing  this  cry,  arose 
quickly  to  open  the  door  and  know  who  this 
stranger  might  be,  and  running  after  him  he 
asked,  saying,  "  Who  art  thou  that  dost  make  this 
petition  "?  But  John  held  his  peace  for  he  would 
not  be  known,  but  afterward  yielding  to  that 
other's  importunity,  he  said,  "  It  is  I,"  and  the 
Clerk  knowing  his  voice  answered  "  Art  thou  John 
Ketel?  and  now  dost  thou  beg  thy  bread?  what 
is  the  cause  hereof?  "  John  therefore  said  to  him, 
"  Hold  thy  peace  and  question  me  no  further  upon 
the  matter  for  the  cause  is  pious  and  good."  So 
the  Clerk  returned  to  his  house  and  told  it  to 
them  of  his  household,  saying,  "  Very  marvellous 
is  the  sight  that  I  have  seen.  John  Ketel,  the  cook 
of  Florentius'  house,  doth  beg  bread  from  door  to 
door."  And  his  hearers  marvelled,  and  signed 
themselves  with  the  sign  of  the  Cross,  saying, 
"What  doth  that  good  man  mean?"  and  thus 
communing  with  one  another,  they  were  greatly 
edified  by  the  example  of  John  and  privately  told 
this  which  he  had  done  to  certain  others.  But 
John  returned  to  the  house,  and  most  joyfully 
carried  into  the  kitchen  the  broken  meats  which 
had  been  given  him  as  alms,  and  showed  to  Flor- 
entius and  the  Brothers  the  blessing  he  had 
received,  namely,  the  holy  bread  which  he  had 
begged  for  God's  sake.  And  Florentius  rejoiced 
over  the  devotion  of  his  humble  cook  and  said, 
"  Give  us  a  share  of  thine  alms,"  and  John  an- 
swered: "  Gladly  will  I  give  you  a  part  hereof  to 
240 


JOHN  CACABUS 

eat;  but  I  would  in  exchange  give  some  of  our 
own  bread  to  the  poor,  for  they  ought  not  to  lose 
what  is  their  own  but  rather  to  receive  an  in- 
crease." Then  some  of  the  bread  that  was  begged 
was  put  before  the  Brothers  for  their  meal,  and 
John  took  some  whole  loaves  from  the  buttery  to 
give  to  the  poor  for  God's  sake,  as  was  com- 
manded him,  and  there  was  great  joy  in  the 
House  over  this  matter. 

(8)  One  morning  he  went  forth  to  a  place  near 
the  Fishgate  to  draw  water  from  the  river,  and 
as  he  was  entering  into  a  boat  that  belonged  to 
one  of  the  fishers  so  as  to  reach  the  clean  water, 
the  owner  came  up  and  said,  "  What  doest  thou 
here,  get  thee  gone  quickly  from  my  boat."  And 
John  bore  patiently  the  words  of  him  that  chode 
him,  and  gave  up  his  design  to  draw  water  lest 
he  might  offend  the  man.  But  then  the  fisher  saw 
that  John  was  an  holy  Brother  and  was  about  to 
depart  without  a  word,  so  being  moved  with  com- 
passion he  said,  "  Come  hither  to  me  and  give 
me  thy  pitcher."  Then  he  drew  water  and  gave 
John  the  pitcher  again  saying,  "  Go  in  peace," 
and  John  returned  thanks  to  his  benefactor,  and 
carried  back  the  pitcher  full  of  water,  praying 
devoutly  upon  the  way,  for  this  was  ever  his  cus- 
tom when  he  went  forth  upon  any  business. 

(9)  Florentius  knowing  that  John  was  a  virtuous 
man  and  strong  in  spirit  to  bear  adversity  often 
chode  him  for  negligence,  and  blamed  him  for 
matters  in  which  he  was  not  really  blameworthy. 
And  this  Florentius  did  to  prove  his  patience  and 
to  set  him  up  as  a  pattern  for  others. 

Thus  when  there  were  men  knocking  at  the 
window  of  the  kitchen,  and  others  standing  at  the 
door  John  hastened  to  answer  each  one  severally 
241  R 


THE  LIFE  OF 

according  to  his  proper  need:  and  as  he  was 
running  hither  and  thither  Florentius  knocked 
upon  the  table  with  his  hand  as  if  he  had  need  of 
something;  but  John  being  fully  occupied  delayed 
a  little  to  answer;  so  the  good  Father  said  with 
a  serious  air  to  prove  him,  "  How  long  shall  I  sit 
here  waiting  for  thee?"  to  which  the  good  cook 
replied  meekly,  "  My  most  beloved  Master  here 
am  I  and  will  bring  thee  what  thou  wilt ;  I  pray 
thee  pardon  my  tardiness."  Sometimes  also 
Florentius  said  to  him,  "  How  is  it  that  this  food 
hath  such  an  ill  savour,  knowest  thou  not  how  to 
cook  better?  Mayhap  the  Brothers  will  murmur 
because  they  must  eat  thine  ill-dressed  food." 
But  John  listening  patiently  to  the  rebuke,  and 
confessing  himself  negligent  replied,  "I  will  gladly 
amend  myself,"  and  Florentius  answered,  "  Thou 
dost  often  say  so,  yet  thou  dost  make  too  small 
improvement." 

(10)  At  another  time  as  Florentius  was  passing 
through  the  kitchen  John  came  behind  him  and 
kneeling  down  took  hold  on  the  hem  of  his  gar- 
ment, asking  pardon;  and  Florentius,  looking 
down  upon  him  said:  "What  is  it  now?"  and 
John  answered,  "  I  have  spilled  some  wine  from 
a  cask  in  the  cellar";  then  said  Florentius  yet 
more  sternly,  "  It  is  thus  that  thou  dost  waste  our 
substance,  now  breaking  something,  now  spilling 
something  else,"  and  straightway  he  turned  away 
his  face  and  shut  the  kitchen  door,  leaving  the 
cook  upon  his  knees;  but  John  bearing  all  humbly 
arose  from  the  ground  making  no  complaint  of 
this  treatment  as  though  he  had  suffered  injury, 
but  holding  the  holy  Father  who  had  chidden  him 
for  his  good  in  the  highest  esteem.  In  these  and 
in  many  other  ways  Florentius  often  proved  John, 
242 


JOHN  CACABUS 

and  yet  he  loved  him  with  an  especial  love  and 
honoured  him  with  all  his  heart  for  his  faithful- 
ness and  love  of  poverty,  a  matter  whereon  the 
two  did  oft  hold  commune  in  the  kitchen. 

Though  he  had  no  great  knowledge  of  letters, 
yet  had  he  a  good  ability  to  understand  the 
Scriptures,  knowledge  to  discern  prudently  be- 
tween vice  and  virtue,  and  to  give  effectual 
remedies  to  the  troubled  and  the  tempted. 

(l  l)  When  he  had  leisure  from  his  toil  he  re- 
joiced to  read  in  some  holy  book,  not  so  as  to 
become  more  learned  in  the  knowledge  that 
puffeth  up,  but  so  as  to  return  to  his  work  more 
fervent  in  charity.  He  listened  with  diligence  to 
the  reading  at  table,  for  he  gathered  much  from 
few  words,  and  his  virtue  of  obedience  and  frequent 
meditations  upon  the  benefits  that  God  had  given 
him  supplied  that  which  the  deep  sayings  of  a 
discourse  in  Latin  denied  to  him:  wherefore  he 
studied  lovingly  the  life  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ, 
drawing  therefrom  a  rule  for  every  part  of  his 
own  life ;  and  for  His  love  he  embraced  the  lowest 
calling,  coarser  food  and  poorer  clothing. 

Sometimes  he  read  the  book  of  John  Climacus, 
"  On  perfect  renunciation  of  the  world  and  mor- 
tification of  the  Will,"  and  expounded  therefrom 
sentiments  full  of  spiritual  truth,  so  that  wise  men 
marvelled  that  he  had  so  good  an  understanding 
of  the  book. 

(12)  A  few  days  before  his  death  he  was  asked 
to  say  whether  he  knew  of  aught  in  the  house 
that  should  be  amended,  because  the  Brethren 
would  gladly  amend  themselves,  and  he  made 
answer  as  a  true  lover  of  poverty,  saying,  "  I 
would  desire  that  we  should  amend  in  three  things. 
First,  that  we  should  eat  more  sparingly  and  that 
243 


THE  LIFE  OF 

more  should  be  given  to  the  poor ;  secondly,  that 
our  more  precious  ornaments  should  be  sold  and 
the  price  thereof  be  bestowed  in  like  manner; 
thirdly,  that  since  we  have  many  books  some  of 
these  should  be  sold,  and  only  those  that  are 
necessary  retained,  and  that  by  this  means  the 
poor  should  be  the  better  relieved." 

To  these  words  Florentius,  rejoicing  over  his 
devotion  and  his  compassionate  spirit,  replied, 
"  John,  that  which  thou  sayest  is  very  good." 

While  he  was  sick  certain  poor  clerks  came  to 
visit  him,  and  looking  upon  them  with  eyes  full 
of  pity,  he  said,  "Oh!  my  beloved  poor,  hence- 
forward I  shall  not  be  able  to  give  you  anything, 
but  I  commend  you  to  God  that  He  may  provide 
for  you  in  every  good  thing."  Amongst  his  other 
exercises  in  humility  he  had  the  following  custom: 
on  every  Sabbath  he  would  clothe  him  in  a  long 
linen  robe  or  shroud  to  remind  him  of  death  and 
in  this  garment  he  would  cook  on  that  day. 
Moreover,  he  earnestly  entreated  that  he  might 
be  buried  therein  after  his  death,  and  this  was 
done,  for  Matthias  of  Mecklin  who  was  his  com- 
rade, let  wash  this  robe  that  John  might  be 
buried  in  it  even  as  he  had  desired.  So  when  the 
time  drew  near  that  this  John,  our  cook  and  God's 
servant,  who  was  filled  with  many  a  fruit  of  virtue, 
should  depart  from  this  life,  he  fell  sick  just 
before  the  octave  of  the  Feast  of  Pentecost,  being 
smitten  with  an  imposthume,  and  began  to  set 
himself  in  order  for  his  approaching  departure. 

(13)  But  before  his  weakness  grew  upon  him, 
he  of  his  obedience  and  charity,  began  once  more 
to  take  charge  of  poor  clerks  and  the  sick,  being 
desirous  to  visit  them  and  to  provide  carefully  for 
their  necessities,  which  thing  did  yet  further  in- 
244 


JOHN  CACABUS 

crease  his  desert.  But  herein  he  was  prevented 
by  his  weakness,  and  he  was  wondrously  consoled 
by  the  sweetness  of  the  Presence  of  Christ  Who 
visited  him.  For  one  day  Amilius,  who  faithfully 
attended  him  in  his  sickness  and  ministered  con- 
tinually to  him,  came  very  early  in  the  morning 
to  visit  him,  asking  whether  he  wished  for  aught; 
and  then  John  assenting  thereto  he  went  into  the 
church  to  hear  Mass.  But  when  the  service  was 
ended  he  returned  to  the  sick  man  who  asked 
him,  "  Wilt  thou  of  thy  charity  share  with  me  the 
benefits  of  the  Mass  which  thou  hast  heard  ";  and 
Amilius  answered,  "  Gladly  do  I  give  and  assign 
all  to  thee  in  charity,  dear  Brother,"  to  which 
John  replied,  "  My  Brother,  whilst  thou  wert  gone 
our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  hath  deigned  to  visit  me," 
and  Amilius  hearing  this  said,  "  Tell  me,  I  pray, 
when  did  He  depart?  "  and  John  answered,  "  The 
moment  thou  didst  open  the  door  He  vanished." 
So  Amilius  rejoiced  and  blessed  God,  giving  Him 
thanks,  and  afterward  he  told  me  fully  all  that 
was  done. 

(14)  Satan  also  strove  to  deceive  and  affright 
the  servant  of  God,  saying  thus  to  him,  "  Take 
thy  purse  again,  foul  merchant !  Thinkest  thou 
that  thou  canst  buy  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven  with 
thy  money?  "  But  the  humble  John,  understand- 
ing the  malice  of  the  enemy,  said  secretly  in  his 
heart,  "  I  presume  not  to  rely  upon  mine  own 
merits,  but  upon  the  mercy  of  God  and  the  merits 
of  the  saints."  And  so  the  enemy  was  put  utterly 
to  confusion  and  departed  from  him,  and  John 
did  commit  himself  in  faith  to  the  Divine  mercy; 
and  being  a  faithful  servant  of  Christ  turned  him- 
self yet  more  closely  to  prayer,  and  ruminated 
upon  these  words  amongst  other  songs  of 
245 


THE  LIFE  OF 

psalmody,  "The  Lord  looseth  them  that  are 
fettered, the  Lord  enlighteneth  the  blind."  Amilius, 
who  sat  by  his  pallet,  bowed  down  his  ear  to  hear 
something  more  from  the  lips  of  one  that  was  in 
the  very  agony  of  death,  that  he  might  record  the 
same  as  a  good  memorial  of  him;  but  he  could 
understand  nothing  because  of  the  hoarseness  of 
the  weak  voice. 

(15)  At  length  after  a  long  death  agony  where- 
in he  strove  laboriously  against  the  might  of  death, 
he  breathed  forth  the  breath  of  his  life  amid  the 
devout  prayers  of  the  Brothers  who  had  come 
together,  and  so  made  a  blessed  end  of  a  life 
completed  in  the  service  of  Christ.  He  died  in 
the  year  of  the  Lord  1398,  on  the  fourth  Sunday 
after  Pentecost,  which  day  was  the  Feast  of  St. 
Petronilla  the  Virgin.  His  poor  body  was  buried 
in  the  cemetery  pertaining  to  St.  Lebuin's  Church, 
where  also  divers  Brethren  who  died  after  him 
rest  in  peace,  to  be  raised  again  through  Christ 
upon  the  Last  Day,  together  with  all  the  faithful. 
Praise  and  glory  be  to  Christ  for  a  man  so  devout 
as  was  this  humble  cook,  who,  after  a  short 
course  of  years  and  but  little  toil,  had  allotted  to 
him  in  heaven,  as  we  piously  believe,  the  greatest 
of  rewards.  Concerning  him  the  venerable  Father 
John  Huesden,  Prior  at  Windesheim,  has  borne 
worthy  testimony,  saying,  "  Would  that  it  might 
be  my  lot  to  live  with  such  a  man  and  to  die  in 
like  state  even  as  he  died!" 

Here  beginneth  the  Book  of  the  devout  exercises  of 
this  same  Brother  John 

(16)  What  can  I  render  to  Thee,  O  God  Eternal, 
for  all  the  benefits  that  thou  hast  rendered  unto 
me? 

246 


JOHN  CACABUS 

O!  my  beloved  John,  have  pity  upon  thyself, 
and  with  much  diligence  and  all  thy  strength 
ponder  over  thy  past  life;  think  what  thou  wert 
in  thy  worldly  days,  nay,  what  thou  art  even  yet 
and  what  are  thy  deserts.  Think  upon  the  ines- 
timable goodness  of  our  Beloved  Lord  Jesus 
Christ  which  He  hath  shown  in  fuller  measure 
to  thee  than  to  so  many;  remember,  therefore, 
that  His  judgement  shall  be  more  heavy  upon 
thee  than  upon  those  others,  except  thou  amend 
thyself.  Stand  in  awe  and  think  that  though  in 
His  so  great  kindness  He  hath  spared  thee,  yet 
perhaps  He  may  not  will  to  spare  thee  any  longer. 
Keep  in  thine  heart  this  thought  that  to-day — or 
at  furthest  to-morrow — thou  must  die,  and  then 
whither  shalt  thou  go? 

(17)  Woe  is  me,  oh  God  Eternal!  whither  shall 
I  flee  from  the  face  of  Thy  wrath,  for  my  sins  are 
more  in  number  than  the  sands  of  the  sea;  yet 
know  I  in  very  truth  that  nought  is  so  displeasing 
to  Thee  as  despair,  and  that  Thou  desirest  not 
the  death  of  a  sinner  but  his  repentance. 

For  this  cause,  say  unto  God  with  groaning  of 
heart:  "Oh!  immeasurable  goodness  of  God, 
look  upon  me  a  miserable  sinner;  oh!  mercy  all 
embracing  turn  Thee  unto  me  that  am  a  man 
full  of  iniquity.  Behold!  I  that  am  desolate,  come 
to  the  Almighty;  wounded  I  haste  to  the  Physi- 
cian. 

"  O  Thou  Who  hast  stayed  so  long  the  sword 
of  vengeance,  continue  Thine  accustomed  good- 
ness, and  according  to  the  multitude  of  Thy 
mercies  blot  out  the  count  of  mine  offences." 

There  are  also  many  other  thoughts  upon  which 
thou  mayest  ponder  concerning  the  mercy  of  God, 
as  His  mercy  to  David,  St.  Peter,  St.  Paul,  Mary 
247 


THE  LIFE  OF 

Magdalene,  the  Publicans,  and  many  other  sinners. 
For  it  is  clearly  manifest  throughout  the  whole 
life  of  Christ,  how  pitiful  He  was  to  penitents  who 
came  to  Him;  and  in  regard  to  them  He  weighed 
not  the  multitude  of  their  sins  but  the  greatness 
of  their  love,  (l  8)  Wherefore,  if  I  would  reach  that 
love,  then  it  is  above  all  things  necessary  for  me 
to  consider  mine  own  frailty,  and  truly  to  feel 
that  I  can  do  no  good  thing  of  myself.  Likewise 
I  must  keep  the  greatness  of  God  and  His  faith- 
fulness continually  before  mine  eyes,  together 
with  mine  own  littleness  and  unfaithfulness  to- 
wards Him.  In  this  there  are  many  things  to  be 
considered,  and  if  I  give  right  heed  to  them  the 
consideration  thereof  shall  lead  me  to  make  my- 
self subject  to  all  men,  to  despise  myself  even  as 
also  I  should  desire  to  be  despised.  But  these 
exercises  must  be  conducted  truly  and  with  care- 
ful thought,  and  one  must  constantly  invoke  the 
help  of  the  Lord  from  Whom  must  come  the 
power  to  perform  such  exercises. 

If  therefore  I  would  reach  that  state  of  humility 
and  that  love,  it  is  needful  for  me  to  have  a  daily 
exercise  and  rule  to  lead  me  to  these  things.  And 
so,  according  as  Saints  have  said,  I  must  look  to 
my  past  sins,  keep  them  ever  before  mine  eyes 
and  make  all  endeavour  to  weigh  them.  To  do 
this  will  keep  me  in  subjection  and  humility,  and 
I  shall  not  think  the  defects  of  the  Brothers  and 
other  men  to  be  heavy,  nor  shall  I  judge  them 
lightly,  but  have  compassion  upon  them,  and  lead 
them  to  better  things. 

Wherefore  it  is  expedient  for  me  to  strive  to 
this  end,  and  to  beware  of  searching  curiously 
into  the  deeds  or  words  of  others;  to  avoid  de- 
traction, and  if  I  hear  any  such  thing  to  strive  to 
248 


JOHN  CACABUS 

find  excuses,  putting  the  matter  aside  and  casting 
it  away. 

This  also  will  help  me  greatly,  namely,  to  con- 
sider the  virtues  of  my  Brethren,  of  whom  I  be- 
lieve that  the  greater  number  have  never  com- 
mitted mortal  sin.  On  the  other  hand,  I  must 
think  upon  the  greatness  of  mine  own  sins,  so 
shall  I  find  that  I  am  not  worthy  to  live  amongst 
the  Brethren  nor  to  serve  them,  and  I  must  hold 
them  in  reverence  and  hope  that  through  their 
good  works  and  prayers  I  may  reach  Life  Eternal. 

Likewise  it  is  needful  for  me  to  have  the  Pre- 
sence of  God  before  mine  eyes  at  all  times,  and 
daily  to  strive  inwardly  to  have  good  thoughts 
during  my  work,  and  in  everything  to  imitate 
with  a  single  heart  that  most  worthy  Pattern, 
namely,  the  Life  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  His 
humility,  His  patience,  His  contempt  of  the  world 
and  poverty,  but,  above  all,  His  charity. 

Also,  I  must  strive  greatly  to  look  upon  every 
man  as  the  image  of  God  and  so  to  deal  with  all 
my  work  as  if  I  were  doing  it  unto  Christ;  this 
will  greatly  lighten  my  toil  and  make  me  benevo- 
lent to  everyone. 

I  will  strive  also  to  recite  my  prayers  attentively 
without  haste,  often  in  my  work  and  labour  to  bow 
my  knee,  and  pray  awhile  briefly  but  with  attention. 

Every  morning  at  the  third  hour  when  thou 
hearest  the  bell,  thou  oughtest  to  rise  without 
delay  and  straightway  begin  to  meditate  upon 
some  holy  subject,  giving  thanks  for  the  mercy  of 
God;  remember  thine  own  misery,  and  that  God, 
the  Angels,  and  the  Saints  are  there  with  thee. 

Be  careful  what  thou  readest  and  with  whom 
thou  dost  converse. 

Kneel  down  or  sit  decorously  without  accidie 
249 


THE  LIFE  OF 

or  leaning  to  one  side  or  the  other,  and  always 
bear  thyself  thus  when  thou  dost  pray. 

When  Mattins  or  Prime  are  over,  read  the  Holy 
Scripture,  and  if  thou  art  heavy  with  sleep  write 
down  something  from  the  subject  of  thy  study. 
When  the  fifth  hour  doth  sound  do  whatsoever 
thou  hast  to  do  in  the  kitchen,  and  if  there  is 
nothing  there,  shut  up  the  kitchen  and  bind  some 
books,  or  if  anything  hath  been  committed  to  thee, 
do  it  until  it  is  time  to  go  into  the  kitchen. 

When  the  bell  doth  ring  for  Mass,  read  the 
first  part  of  Tierce  as  far  as  the  Psalms  while 
thou  art  still  in  the  House,  and  continue  to  read 
the  remainder  on  thy  way  as  thou  goest  to  Church. 
Kneel  upright  upon  thy  knees  in  Church  in  some 
corner  during  the  whole  of  Mass;  and  after  thy 
usual  custom  meditate  upon  the  Life  and  Passion 
of  our  Beloved  Lord  Jesus  Christ. 

When  Mass  is  done  begin  whilst  thou  art  still 
in  Church  to  read  Sext  as  far  as  the  Psalms,  and 
read  the  rest  upon  thy  homeward  way.  When 
thou  hast  returned  to  the  kitchen  from  Church 
pray  awhile,  determine  in  thine  heart  how  thou 
wouldest  order  thyself  during  the  day,  and  what 
are  the  points  in  which  thou  oughtest  to  amend 
thyself;  then  strive  steadfastly  to  this  end,  keep- 
ing before  thine  eyes  (as  was  said  before)  that 
Divine  Mirror  of  the  Life  and  Character  of  our 
beloved  Lord,  and  remembering  that  it  is  to  Him 
and  not  to  men  that  thou  art  ministering. 

In  the  midst  of  thy  work  and  labour  thou 
oughtest  to  say  often  and  attentively  some  brief 
prayer  upon  thy  bended  knees,  especially  at  the 
ringing  of  the  Bell,  and  when  the  signal  soundeth 
in  the  Church  to  announce  the  Elevation  of  the 
Holy  Body  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ. 
250 


JOHN  CACABUS 

Constantly  constrain  thyself  in  the  midst  of 
thy  work  to  have  some  good  thought,  as,  for  ex- 
ample, the  benefits  of  God,  the  Kingdom  of 
Heaven,  the  Judgement,  or  Death:  and  when 
anyone  doth  knock  at  the  kitchen  door  look  to  it 
that  thou  give  a  good  answer. 

If  thou  hast  time  study  awhile  in  the  book  of 
extracts  which  thou  hast  copied. 

Whomsoever  of  the  Brothers  thou  seest  either 
within  or  outside  the  House,  look  upon  him  as 
upon  Christ,  having  special  regard  for  those  who 
have  the  care  of  the  House,  and  if  they  require 
aught  of  thee  do  it  quickly  and  with  a  cheerful 
countenance. 

Before  beginning  a  meal  read  the  Benedicite, 
and  during  thy  meal  be  instant  to  read  or  to 
meditate  upon  something  that  is  good. 

Take  heed  lest  thou  eat  too  hastily,  or  partake 
of  delicate  meats  or  drinks;  be  not  longer  at 
the  table  than  are  the  Brethren,  and  during  the 
meal,  if  any  one  of  those  who  serve  the  table  doth 
knock  at  the  door,  arise  quickly.  After  the  meal 
thou  must  provide  for  the  Reader  the  hot  victual 
like  that  which  the  Brothers  have  had.  Mean- 
while, read  the  Grace  and  put  away  the  remnants 
of  the  food,  and  the  cooking  vessels  each  in  his 
own  place,  as  quickly  as  thou  canst.  When  thou 
comest  to  thy  cell  after  dinner,  immediately  read 
Nones  and  then  do  thy  work  and  labour  with  the 
lay  Brothers  until  the  second  bell  for  Vespers, 
unless  thou  hast  some  other  duty  in  the  House 
or  abroad.  After  this  read  thy  Vespers.  If  thou 
hast  further  time  to  spend  meditate  upon  or  study 
some  holy  subject  until  the  fourth  hour,  and  then 
go  to  the  kitchen  to  prepare  supper  for  the 
Brothers;  after  this  meal  prepare  for  the  follow- 
251 


THE  LIFE  OF 

ing  day  such  food  as  the  sick  or  the  Brethren 
may  require.  When  thy  business  in  the  kitchen 
is  done  go  to  thy  cell  and  read  Compline,  after 
which  thou  mayest  study  or  do  any  good  thing 
until  the  eighth  hour,  at  which  time  thou  oughtest 
to  write  down  thy  failures  and  to  meditate  piously 
upon  some  holy  matter,  to  say  some  prayer  with 
invocation  of  the  Saints,  and  having  such  thoughts 
in  mind  to  go  to  bed  about  the  ninth  hour  en- 
deavouring to  fall  asleep  while  yet  meditating 
upon  holy  things. 

When  thou  dost  awake  let  thy  thoughts  dwell 
straightway  upon  some  holy  matter,  that  thou 
mayst  be  able  to  sleep  again  with  such  things 
still  in  mind. 

Before  all  these  things  I  ought  to  prefer 
obedience;  and  it  is  my  desire,  whatsoever  the 
rulers  of  the  House  may  order  (though  their 
decision  agree  not  with  mine  own  ideas)  to  aban- 
don mine  own  will  without  hesitation  in  these 
matters,  to  do  at  once  whatsoever  they  desire, 
and  not  to  hold  to  anything  or  to  any  task  with 
inordinate  affection;  for  if  I  abstain  from  so  doing 
I  shall  the  more  easily  abandon  mine  own  will. 

Furthermore  I  ought  to  strive  to  hold  in  rever- 
ence and  honour  those  who  are  the  Guardians 
and  Procurators  of  the  House:  to  take  all  heed 
not  to  harbour  harsh  thoughts  and  suspicions  of 
them,  to  perform  dutifully  and  without  reserve 
all  that  they  desire,  not  judging  or  seeking  to 
inquire  the  reasons  for  which  they  order  this  or 
that ;  to  keep  mine  own  foolishness  clearly  before 
mine  eyes,  remembering  that  I  am  not  wise,  and 
to  think  their  wisdom  great. 

Of  a  surety  also  I  must  keep  before  mine  eyes 
the  facl  that  I  have  resigned  myself  to  these 
252 


JOHN  CACABUS 

Superiors  as  being  in  the  place  of  God,  and  so 
am  not  mine  own,  although  I  have  bound  myself 
to  this  obedience  not  by  vow  but  of  my  own  free 
and  untrammelled  will  and  purpose,  and  this  have 
I  done  in  the  hope  that  it  is  wholesome  for  me 
so  to  stand  rather  than  to  act  according  to  mine 
own  judgement  and  pleasure;  therefore  I  desire 
to  think  upon  this  purpose  of  mine,  and  earnestly 
to  entreat  my  Superiors  to  keep  me  in  subjection. 

Moreover  I  must  strive  in  all  my  works,  words, 
and  thoughts  to  fear  God  rather  than  man,  that 
whatsoever  I  do  it  may  be  solely  to  the  honour 
of  God  and  to  please  Him  only;  in  like  manner 
whatever  trespass  I  commit  I  must  fear  therein  the 
offence  I  give  to  God  more  than  that  I  give  to  men. 
In  very  truth  I  must  keep  myself  from  boasting, 
from  the  desire  of  outward  show  and  from  the 
love  of  praise  from  men. 

(19)  Also  I  must  strive  mightily  to  keep  silence, 
for  this  shall  be  a  notable  aid  to  many  virtues. 
I  will  strive  when  I  speak  to  do  so  prudently;  to 
say  one  "Ave  Maria"  in  the  interval  before  I 
speak,  or  reply;  not  to  exaggerate:  to  avoid 
loose  talk  and  the  use  of  many  or  high-sounding 
words,  especially  in  the  kitchen;  and  to  be  care- 
ful to  admonish  others  in  this  regard. 

I  must  earnestly  endeavour  to  be  alone  when- 
ever I  can,  to  put  on  my  spiritual  armour,  never 
to  be  idle  on  any  account,  and  to  avoid  speaking 
or  listening  to  defamatory  talk.  In  the  office 
assigned  to  thee  be  diligent  to  preserve  the  out- 
ward appearance  of  order;  be  obedient  in  the 
performance  of  thy  duties  and  show  thyself  to 
be  kindly  to  every  man,  especially  by  providing 
food  for  the  sick,  particularly  for  our  Father 
Florentius,  who  is  almost  always  weak  and  sickly. 
253 


THE  LIFE  OF 

I  resolve  to  be  benevolent  to  all  strangers,  receiv- 
ing them  as  I  would  Christ,  but  not  talking  much 
with  them ;  to  look  well  to  the  care  of  the  poor, 
and  to  do  all  that  is  entrusted  to  me  so  far  as  in 
me  lies,  namely,  to  hold  them  in  reverence,  to 
show  them  kindness,  and  to  keep  ward  faithfully 
over  the  goods  entrusted  to  me. 

(20)  When  I  go  abroad  on  business  I  will 
strive  to  keep  watch  over  mine  eyes,  to  read 
some  good  book  or  to  meditate  while  in  the 
streets,  and  to  return  homeward  as  quickly  as 
•nay  be.  Also  I  will  endeavour  to  make  known 
my  temptations;  and  at  least  once  in  the  week 
to  lament  over  my  sins  to  some  one  person,  to 
accept  the  remedies  that  he  proposeth,  rejecting 
none,  and  to  endeavour  always  to  admit  my 
guilt;  and  if  I  break  anything,  or  neglect  any 
duty,  I  desire  to  ask  pardon  therefore  freely. 

Also  I  would  abstain  from  too  often  tasting  the 
food  before  it  is  sent  up,  save  in  case  of  need; 
from  drinking  (save  at  meal  times)  without  leave 
from  my  Superiors;  and  from  doing  anything 
behind  their  backs  that  I  would  not  dare  to  do 
before  their  faces. 

I  ought  to  strive  earnestly  to  perform  all 
despised  and  humble  tasks  and  to  relieve  our 
Brothers  Matthew  and  John  thereof  whenever  I 
can  do  so,  to  hold  them  in  reverence,  to  show 
myself  kindly  to  them  and  prompt  to  aid  in  every 
humble  task. 

(21)  I  will  beware  that  no  complaint  be  heard 
from  me  of  my  clothing,  my  food,  and  the  like; 
but  I  will  strive  rather  to  feel  that  I  am  unworthy 
of  those  things  which  I  lack;  it  is  my  duty  also 
to  read  diligently  such  books  as  may  help  me  to 
this  end,  to  give  my  whole  attention  to  the  attain- 

254 


JOHN  CACABUS 

ment  thereof,  to  strive  to  order  myself  modestly, 
whether  I  am  walking,  standing,  sitting,  or  the 
like. 

It  is  also  profitable  to  me  to  esteem  the  spiritual 
exercises  of  this  House  more  highly  than  those 
of  other  Houses,  to  have  a  great  love  for  my 
work  in  the  kitchen,  a  full  resolve  to  die  in  this 
condition,  and  not  to  depart  from  it  by  reason  of 
anything  that  may  come  to  me  save  only  in  virtue 
of  the  rule  of  obedience. 

In  this  I  must  have  all  confidence  towards  our 
most  loving  Lord,  namely  »ihat  He  is  ready  to 
forgive  all  my  sins,  and  to  give  me  freely  mine 
own  proper  reward  for  everything  I  do,  however 
small  it  be. 

And  though  there  are  many  other  tasks  greater 
and  holier,  yet  I  must  not  leave  mine  own  work, 
but  remain  constant  thereunto,  being  assured 
that  for  me  no  task  is  more  wholesome  or  more 
profitable  than  that  to  which  the  Lord  hath 
called  me. 

Besides  these  things  it  is  my  desire  to  examine 
myself  daily  after  the  eighth  hour  in  all  matters 
of  this  kind,  to  ascertain  that  in  which  I  have 
trespassed,  and  (as  I  hope),  to  resolve  firmly  to 
amend  myself  surely  therein  for  the  time  to  come. 


255 


THE  LIFE  OF 


LIFE  OF  ARNOLD  OF  SCHOONHOVEN 

a<£  Concerning  Arnold  of  "  Schoonhoven  "  (that  is, 
"  Belles  Curice  "),  a  devout  Clerk 

(0 
N  the  days  when  the  Church  at  Deventer 
flourished  through  the  presence  there 
of  that  Reverend  Father  Florentius, 
and  many  scholars  came  to  that  city 
from  divers  regions  desiring  to  be  taught,  there 
came  also  from  the  country  of  Holland  a  youth 
whose  natural  disposition  was  good,  and  in  whom 
was  no  worldly  malice.  His  name  was  Arnold, 
and  he  was  the  son  of  one  Wyrone,  a  faithful  man 
and  an  honourable  citizen  of  Schoonhoven.  While 
Arnold  was  still  in  his  parent's  house,  and  attended 
the  School  with  the  boys  that  were  his  comrades, 
he  followed  not  the  ways  of  those  that  sported  in 
the  streets,  but  it  was  his  custom  to  enter  the 
Church  in  the  morning  and  there  to  offer  his 
prayers  and  vows  to  God  before  the  several 
Altars,  giving  up  his  heart  betimes  in  the  day  to 
the  Lord  Who  made  him.  The  first  beginnings 
of  a  boyhood  so  devout  contained  the  promise  of 
that  fuller  grace  which  he  should  earn  when  he 
came  to  man's  estate ;  for  God  shielded  him  that 
he  continued  untouched  by  the  contagion  of  the 
flesh.  As  I  have  said,  he  came  to  Deventer,  where 
at  that  time  Master  John  Boheme  was  in  author- 
ity, and  he  presented  himself  before  the  face  of 
Florentius,  hoping  to  obtain  a  lodging  in  one  of 
the  Houses  of  the  Devout  Clerks.  At  that  time 
256 


ARNOLD  OF  SCHOONHOVEN 

there  was  no  small  number  of  these  Clerks  living 
in  the  several  Houses  under  the  rule  and  disci- 
pline of  that  most  devout  Father,  and  following 
the  holy  commandments  of  their  Lord,  His  coun- 
sels and  precepts,  and  also  at  set  times  toiling  at 
the  work  of  copying  books  for  the  Schools. 

(2)  So  Florentius,  perceiving  that  Arnold  was 
earnestly  disposed  to  the  service  of  God  and 
wholly  turned  away  from  the  world,  gave  him 
leave  to  abide  in  his  own  ancient  House  wherein 
dwelt  divers  Clerks,  about  twenty  in  all,  living  at 
the  common  charge,  having  a  common  table  and 
expenditure,  and  serving  God  with  great  devotion. 
Amongst  their  number  were  three  lay  Brothers, 
of  whom  one  was  the  Procurator,  who  bought  all 
things  necessary  for  the  Community,  the  second 
was  over  the  kitchen,  and  the  third  mended  the 
clothes.  In  after  days  some  of  the  Brethren  from 
this  House  passed  into  the  order  of  Canons  Regu- 
lar; others  attained  the  Priestly  rank,  and  by 
reason  of  the  good  examples  which  they  had 
seen  and  learned  at  Deventer,  bore  fruit  in  other 
places. 

(3)  At  this  same  time,  by  the  aid  and  counsel 
of  Florentius,  I  also  took  up  my  abode  in  this 
house,  and  continued  in  the  Community  for  about 
a  year,  having  Arnold  as  my  companion,  for  we 
were  content  to  share  one  little  cell  and  bed. 
Here  indeed  I  learned  to  write,  to  read  the  Holy 
Scripture  and  books  on  moral  subjects,  and  to 
hear  devout  discourses ;  but  it  was  chiefly  through 
the  sweet  conversation  of  the  Brethren  that  I  was 
inspired  yet  more  strongly  to  despise  the  world ; 
and  by  the  pious  admonitions  of  Arnold  I  was 
holpen  and  instructed  every  day.  All  that  I  was 
then  able  to  earn  by  writing  I  gave  for  the  ex- 

257  s 


THE  LIFE  OF 

penses  of  the  Community,  and  what  I  lacked,  the 
generous  piety  of  my  beloved  Father  Florentius 
defrayed  for  me,  for  he  succoured  me  in  every 
way  like  a  father. 

(4)  Thus  I  noted  in  Arnold  many  signs  of  de- 
votion, for  he  was  altogether  exemplary  and  de- 
vout both  in  the  House  and  the  School,  not  hurtful 
or  harsh  to  any,  but  acceptable  and  kindly  unto 
all.  Every  morning  at  the  fourth  hour  when  the 
Bell  gave  warning,  he  awoke  instantly  and  arose 
with  alacrity,  and  then,  before  the  bed  on  bended 
knees,  he  said  a  short  prayer,  fervently  pouring 
forth  the  first  fruits  of  his  mouth  to  the  Lord. 
After  dressing  himself  quickly,  he  went  in  due 
time  to  the  Oratory  to  recite  the  morning  Office 
of  the  Blessed  Virgin  Mary  and  of  the  Holy  Cross, 
and  he  did  not  keep  the  others  waiting  but  was 
instant  to  arrive  before  them  all. 

When  it  was  time  to  go  to  Mass  he  hastened 
to  be  amongst  the  first  in  Church  and  humbly 
bowed  the  knee  before  the  Altars,  hearing  the 
Office  of  the  Mass  with  the  reverence  of  a  sup- 
pliant, and  ceasing  not  from  prayer  and  holy 
meditation  until  the  solemn  rites  were  finished 
in  due  order.  He  loved  to  choose  a  private  place 
far  from  the  crowd  so  that  he  might  not  be  hin- 
dered in  his  prayers,  and  the  more  private  his 
place  the  more  fervent  were  his  supplications. 
He  avoided  to  be  seen  of  men  lest  in  any  way  he 
might  become  conspicuous  by  his  devotion,  and 
likewise  he  took  care  that  his  voice  might  not  be 
heard  abroad,  for  his  desire  was  to  open  his  heart 
in  private  prayer  to  God  only;  but  yet  his  burn- 
ing light  could  not  always  be  thus  hidden  nor 
hindered  from  shining  abroad  though  he  were 
fain  to  hide  it. 

258 


ARNOLD  OF  SCHOONHOVEN 

(5)  Thus  it  sometimes  happened  that  though 
he  wist  not  of  it,  I  stood  by  and  noted  secretly 
what  he  did,  and  was  set  on  fire  by  his  fervour 
in  prayer,  for  I  desired  that  I  too  might  some- 
times feel  a  devotion  like  to  that  which  he  seemed 
to  feel  every  day.  Nor  was  it  wonderful  that  one 
who  kept  careful  ward  over  his  heart  and  lips 
wherever  he  went,  should  be  devout  in  prayer, 
for  the  sound  of  joy  was  heard  from  his  mouth 
by  reason  of  the  most  sweet  savour  of  his  devo- 
tion, as  if  he  were  partaking  of  delectable  food, 
according  to  that  saying  of  the  Psalmist:  "  The 
high  praises  of  God  shall  be  in  their  lips."  As  he 
sat  with  the  boys  in  School  he  noted  not  their 
childish  clamour,  but  as  the  Master  delivered  his 
lecture  he  wrote  the  same  on  paper  and  after- 
ward read  it  over  to  himself  or  with  a  comrade, 
thereby  avoiding  vain  talk;  for  he  did  not  betake 
himself  to  worldly  employments,  but  when  the 
lectures  were  done  he  read  awhile  in  the  Holy 
Page,  and  often  prayed  silently  or  sighed  in- 
wardly; for  in  his  studies  he  sought  God  above 
all  else.  When  he  found  aught  that  was  especi- 
ally noteworthy,  he  of  his  charity  showed  it  to 
the  comrade  who  was  with  him  or  gave  him  the 
passage  to  read,  and  thus  by  the  Sacred  word 
and  by  his  holy  discourse  he  turned  many  away 
from  scurrilous  talk  and  laughter.  On  Feast  Days 
when  many  persons  came  to  the  town,  he  brought 
not  a  few  to  the  House  of  Florentius  to  hear  his 
discourse,  not  regarding  their  age  or  condition, 
but  rejoicing  over  them  and  hoping  for  the  con- 
version of  some;  and  through  the  inspiration  of 
God  he  was  not  disappointed  of  his  desire,  for  he 
saw  the  fruit  of  his  labours  in  the  amending  of 
the  lives  of  these  worldlings,  both  young  and  old. 
259 


THE  LIFE  OF 

His  discourse  and  exhortation  dealt  not  with  lofty 
matters  nor  with  things  foreign  to  the  purpose  in 
hand,  but  with  true  conversion  to  God  and  the 
amendment  of  life  in  the  world;  and  the  holy 
simplicity  of  his  devout  words  was  more  profitable 
than  the  subtility  of  a  Latin  discourse. 

(6)  When  he  seemed  to  be  sufficiently  advanced 
in  learning  he  occupied  himself  wholly  with  spiri- 
tual studies,  deserting  those  of  the  Schools;  he 
forgat  his  parents,  his  home,  and  his  country  for 
the  sake  of  Life  Eternal,  and  submitted  himself 
most  readily  to  the  yoke  of  obedience  and  to  the 
discipline  of  the  Clerks,  as  was  the  laudable  cus- 
tom first  instituted  by  our  Father  Florentius  in 
that  ancient  House.  He  toiled  not  greatly  to  at- 
tain much  learning,  but  rather  to  preserve  a  good 
conscience  and  purity  of  heart,  for  he  knew  that 
the  pure  in  heart  are  blessed  and  most  pleasing 
to  God.  He  began  to  be  instant  and  earnest  in 
his  prayers  to  be  allowed  to  abide  all  the  days  of 
his  life  in  the  House  of  Florentius,  for  there  was 
no  other  state  of  life  in  the  whole  world  that  he 
would  choose  save  that  in  which  he  could  pass 
his  days  with  the  Brothers  who  were  so  devout 
and  worthy  to  be  accepted  of  God,  beneath  a 
strict  rule  and  in  obedience  to  the  most  reverend 
Father  of  the  House.  At  this  time  those  disciples 
and  most  devout  pupils  of  our  beloved  Father 
Florentius,  whose  lives  I  have  written  above,  were 
still  in  the  flesh,  namely,  Lubert,  Henry,  Gerard, 
Amilius,  James  and  John  Ketel,  and  there  were 
with  them  some  others  who  had  been  amongst 
the  first  members  of  that  Community.  These 
were  fervent  in  the  love  of  Christ,  and  let  their 
light  shine  as  an  ensample  to  their  neighbours, 
and  the  beloved  Brother  Arnold  desired  to  be  knit 
260 


ARNOLD  OF  SCHOONHOVEN 

to  them  in  humble  fellowship  and  sincerity  of  life, 
for  he  knew  that  his  should  be  a  happy  fortune 
if  he  should  be  thought  worthy  to  spend  the 
whole  space  of  his  mortal  life  with  these  Floren- 
tian  Brothers  that  lived  the  life  of  Chastity  on 
earth.  But  though  he  was  importunate  in  his 
prayers  Florentius  delayed  to  grant  his  petition 
so  that  he  might  have  a  better  probation,  and  he 
spake  to  him  in  this  wise:  "  Learn  to  write  well 
and  then  there  may  be  hope  for  thee." 

(7)  Hearing  this  he  expended  all  diligence  in 
learning  the  art  of  writing,  and  often  went  to 
some  skilful  writer,  asking  to  be  more  fully  in- 
structed by  him;  and  he  said  to  me:  "Would 
that  I  could  write  well  that  I  might  the  sooner 
dwell  with  our  Father  Florentius!  I  believe  that 
through  God's  grace  I  should  have  a  good  will 
to  overcome  my  passions  if  only  I  knew  how  to 
write."  When  I  heard  this  I  marvelled  at  his 
righteousness  and  fervour,  in  that  he  endeavoured 
with  all  his  might  to  do  what  Florentius  had 
bidden  him,  and  I  transposed  his  saying  and 
thought  in  my  heart:  "I  should  have  a  good 
will  to  learn  writing  if  only  I  could  amend  my 
life." 

But  Arnold  had  a  special  grace  from  God 
which  instructed  him  in  every  good  work  so  that 
no  matter  of  obedience  seemed  hard  to  him,  and 
this  grace  he  strove  to  nurture  with  holy  exer- 
cises and  to  preserve  with  anxious  prayer  lest  it 
might  be  imputed  to  him  that  he  had  received 
God's  grace  in  vain.  Therefore,  before  he  read 
or  began  to  write,  he  said  a  short  prayer  making 
his  work  an  offering  to  God,  and  at  the  end  thereof 
he  did  the  same,  returning  thanks  to  Him.  When 
he  went  forth  from  the  House  or  returned  to  his 
261 


THE  LIFE  OF 

cell,  he  bowed  the  knee  before  the  Image  of  Christ, 
and  so  with  prayer  and  obeisance  he  went  about 
his  business. 

(8)  Every  hour  when  the  Bell  rang  he  said  an 
Ave  Maria  or  some  similar  invocation,  and  while 
he  was  still  attending  School,  if  he  saw  the  door 
of  the  Church  open  before  or  after  school-time,  he 
gladly  entered  and  remained  there  so  long  as 
time  allowed,  or  at  least  made  a  reverence  toward 
the  Church.  The  pious  customs  that  were  en- 
joined by  his  Elders  he  carefully  observed  and 
did  not  knowingly  omit  even  the  least  of  them. 
He  accepted  the  admonitions  given  him  with 
gratitude,  be  the  matter  never  so  slight,  and 
earnestly  strove  to  amend.  He  received  every 
word  spoken  by  the  Superior  or  his  vicar  as 
humbly  as  if  he  had  heard  the  same  from  the 
mouth  of  God,  or  of  some  Saint,  but  he  ventured 
not  to  discriminate  or  judge  by  interpreting  the 
order  otherwise  than  as  it  was  given.  For  these 
things'  sake  he  had  great  peace  of  heart  and  was 
dear  alike  to  God  and  man,  being  willing  and 
ready  to  do  all  that  was  commanded  him  as  one 
that  rejoiceth  ever  in  the  Lord. 

(9)  Before  the  Festivals  of  Christ  and  the 
Saints  he  was  instant  and  zealous  to  prepare 
himself  for  the  Holy  Communion,  and  he  used 
to  say:  "  A  great  Feast  is  at  hand,  therefore  let  us 
prepare  ourselves  devoutly  to  receive  the  Lord"; 
or,  again:  "To-day  is  the  Feast  of  such  a  Saint, 
let  us  earnestly  implore  his  suffrages." 

(10)  When  a  certain  youth  was  speaking  with 
Florentius  of  the  vice  of  vainglory  and  asking  for 
a  remedy  therefor,  Arnold,  who  was  passing  by, 
came  upon  them,  and  Florentius  seeing  him  said 
to  the  youth:  "What  sayest  thou  of  that  Brother 

262 


ARNOLD  OF  SCHOONHOVEN 

yonder?  Is  he  also  vainglorious?  "  To  which  the 
youth  answered:  "I  trow  not";  and  Florentius 
said:  "I  wit  well  that  it  is  as  thou  sayest." 

So  when  the  fulfilment  of  his  desire  had  been 
delayed  for  about  a  year,  and  having  been  proved 
sufficiently,  he  had  still  continued  constant,  long- 
ing with  all  his  heart  to  be  allowed  to  join  the 
Brotherhood,  Florentius  yielded  to  his  petition 
and  accepted  him,  giving  him  a  place  amid  the 
Brethren;  this  was  a  thing  most  joyful  to  him, 
and  he  returned  hearty  thanks  to  God  therefor. 
Then  as  though  he  were  converted  anew  and 
called  to  a  more  perfect  state,  he  strove  so  zeal- 
ously after  an  earnest  and  humble  conversation, 
as  to  become  to  all  a  pattern  of  virtue  and  utter 
subjection;  he  let  slip  no  whit  of  that  primitive 
devotion  and  those  good  customs  which  were 
handed  down  to  him  by  the  former  Brethren  of 
the  House;  he  apprehended  the  discipline  with 
all  his  heart,  exercising  himself  in  virtue  and 
daily  renewing  himself  therein  according  to  the 
saying  of  the  Apostle :  "  Be  renewed  in  the  spirit 
of  your  mind."  He  shook  off  all  sluggishness 
from  him,  being  ever  ready  to  watch  and  pray, 
diligent  in  his  writing  and  in  admonishing  the 
negligent  piously  and  with  charity,  being  led 
thereto  by  godly  zeal. 

(ll)  There  seemed  to  dwell  in  him  no  will 
other  than  that  of  his  Superior  whose  deeds  and 
words  he  magnified,  and  embraced  humbly,  as  if 
they  proceeded  from  heaven,  and  thus  he  con- 
tinued like  an  innocent  child  in  obedience  and 
subjection,  not  in  his  youth  only  but  unto  his 
life's  end.  He  shewed  his  lowliness  and  modesty 
in  his  outward  apparel  as  well  as  in  his  speech 
and  conduct,  and  if  he  perceived  that  anyone 
263 


THE  LIFE  OF 

went  beyond  the  established  usage  or  fell  short 
thereof,  he  always  strove  to  persuade  him  to 
choose  the  better  part. 

For  himself  he  chose  the  lowest  place  un- 
feignedly  and  of  set  purpose,  and  just  as  the 
bearing  of  humiliation  is  a  burden  to  some,  so 
his  burden  was  the  finding  of  humiliations  to  inflict 
upon  himself. 

Amid  the  Brothers  he  was  cheerful  but  not 
frivolous,  nor  was  he  given  to  much  talking  but 
put  a  guard  over  his  mouth  and  uttered  only 
words  tending  to  edification,  for  he  was  more 
ready  to  hear  than  to  teach. 

In  his  labour  he  was  faithful  and  earnest,  and 
was  grieved  if  he  could  not  always  rise  up  in 
the  night  and  help  the  Brothers  in  their  brewing. 
Before  the  hour  for  writing  he  would  prepare  his 
pens  so  that  he  might  be  the  less  hindered  from 
his  work  and  the  more  promote  the  common 
good. 

(12)  He  strove  so  to  order  his  doings  that  the 
Brethren  might  not  be  burdened  by  him,  but  that 
he  might  rather  bring  in  something  to  their 
profit ;  and  therefore  in  his  anxiety  to  avoid  so 
far  as  possible  consuming  the  fruit  of  their  labours 
he  gladly  performed  his  share  of  the  common 
labour,  and  also  tasks  beyond  these.  Moreover 
he  rejoiced  that  if  aught  was  lacking  in  the  gains 
that  he  earned  by  writing  this  was  supplied  by 
his  father  after  the  flesh  who  used  to  send  year 
by  year  a  certain  sum  of  money  to  the  Brethren. 
After  the  death  of  his  parents  he  would  have 
given  gladly  all  the  inheritance  which  fell  to  him 
for  the  use  of  the  Community,  but  in  this  purpose 
he  was  hindered  by  death,  which  was  beforehand 
with  him.  For  when  he  was  purposed  to  go  to 
264 


ARNOLD  OF  SCHOONHOVEN 

Holland  to  settle  the  affairs  of  his  inheritance,  he 
came  to  Zutphen,  to  the  Brethren  who  were  then 
sojourning  there,  and  after  a  few  days  he  fell 
sick  just  after  the  Feast  of  St.  Philip  and  St. 
James,  wherefore  his  journey  to  his  native  land 
was  deferred  lest  haply  his  end  might  come 
when  he  was  far  from  the  fellowship  of  the 
Brethren. 

(13)  Though  he  felt  that  his  weakness  was 
growing  more  and  more  upon  him  yet  he  lay  not 
long  upon  his  bed,  for  upon  the  Day  of  St. 
Wyrone  the  Bishop — which  was  the  last  save  one 
of  his  life — he  himself  made  his  own  bed,  and  on 
the  following  day,  that  is  on  the  Feast  of  St. 
Gengulphus  the  Martyr,  about  the  hour  of  Vespers, 
having  settled  his  affairs,  he  received  the  Com- 
munion of  the  Holy  Body  of  Christ  and  the 
Unction.  But  late  in  the  evening,  feeling  himself 
very  weak,  he  desired  that  the  Brethren  should 
come  together  to  him,  and  to  them  he  devoutly 
commended  himself,  begging  them  to  pray  faith- 
fully for  him  and  to  report  his  death  to  a  certain 
devout  Virgin  at  Schiedam,  named  Lydewy,  who 
had  promised  to  pray  for  him,  for  he  had  once 
visited  her  in  Holland,  and  many  wondrous  things 
are  told  of  her  by  reason  of  her  long  suffering 
patience. 

Having  made  these  requests  he  lay  until  the 
tenth  hour  when  the  day  was  closing,  continuing 
sound  in  mind,  and  he  showed  no  sadness  when 
he  came  to  the  last  hour  but  said  he  was  ready. 
Then,  his  Brethren  being  present  and  praying 
round  him,  he  rendered  up  his  soul  without  much 
pain,  as  it  would  seem.  He  had  lived  amongst 
the  Devout  Brothers  from  his  youth  up,  in  a 
good  conscience,  being  a  true  worshipper  of  God 
265 


LIFE  OF  ARNOLD  OF  SCHOONHOVEN 

and  a  devout  lover  of  Christ,  and  had  persevered 
for  thirty-one  years  in  the  Community  in  the 
humble  condition  of  a  Clerk. 

This  sweet  and  amiable  Brother  died  in  the 
year  of  the  Lord  1430,  on  the  ninth  day  of  May, 
in  the  City  of  Zutphen  in  Gelders,  and  was  buried 
in  the  Cemetery  of  the  Blessed  Virgin  Mary  to- 
ward the  South  side  of  the  Church. 

Novice 

(14)  Hearing  the  lives  of  these  men  I  am 
constrained  to  despise  mine  own,  for  thereby  I 
I  see  how  far  I  am  from  the  true  virtue. 

But  yet  I  hope  that  it  is  profitable  to  me  to 
have  learned  this  from  thy  narration,  for  I  pur- 
pose from  my  heart  to  amend  myself. 

The  Elder  Brother 

For  this  purpose  I  have  told  these  things  to 
thee,  though  briefly,  that  thou  mayest  make  it 
thy  study  to  give  thyself  to  fervency  of  spirit,  nor 
ever  aspire  to  any  dignity  or  honourable  office, 
but  mayest  rather  labour  to  be  altogether  in 
subjection  and  to  root  out  thy  vices. 

So  shalt  thou  be  able  the  more  fully  to  please 
God  Who  doth  ever  grant  a  special  grace  of  devo- 
tion to  the  humble,  and  after  the  toil  of  this  pre- 
sent life  glory  for  ever  and  ever  to  them  that 
have  fought  a  good  fight. 


Amen. 


266 


CHISWICK   PRESS  :    CHARLES  WHITTINGHAM   AND  CO. 
TOOKS  COURT,   CHANCERY  LANE,    LONDON. 


BX  2900  .Z513  W5  1905  SMC 

Thomas,  a  Kempis, 

The  founders  of  the  new 

devotion 


I